/ 26 May 2024

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Saturday urged the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking or IACAT to crack down on people engaged in the sale of babies that has become rampant online.

In a press briefing, the Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Authority on Child Care Executive Director and DSWD Undersecretary Janella Estrada said that authorities monitored around 20 to 40 Facebook accounts that buy and sell children.

In one case, the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center foiled the sale of an eight-day-old child for P50,000 to P90,000.

Gatchalian emphasized that those buying and selling babies should be held liable under the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 or Republic Act No. 11862, a law that he co-authored and co-sponsored during the 18th Congress.

The law penalizes child laundering, which is defined as the selling and stealing of children under pretenses.

Child laundering also refers to the use of schemes such as falsifying or manipulating children’s details or origins to make them appear as orphans or foundlings.

The law also prohibits other forms of human trafficking such as the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“Nakakabahala na nagiging talamak ang bentahan ng mga sanggol sa social media. Kailangan nating sugpuin ang ganitong mga kalakaran lalo na’t ito’y maituturing na pang-aabuso. Nananawagan din ako sa ating mga law enforcement agencies na paigtingin ang kanilang pagsugpo sa ganitong mga iligal na gawain,” said Gatchalian.

The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 gives law enforcers additional tools to pursue human traffickers both online and offline. The law also provides that internet intermediaries such as social media networks shall be liable for allowing the use of their platforms for trafficking.