/ 13 July 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian stressed the need for the government to intensify the campaign against all forms of human trafficking, especially the online sexual exploitation of children.

He made the call even if the Philippines retained its Tier 1 Status for meeting the minimum standards on the elimination of human trafficking.

Based on the US State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report for the Philippines, the government convicted 73 traffickers, mostly for the sex trafficking of children.

The report said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development served 1,205 trafficking victims, including 157 victims of OSEC.

The report identified challenges such as slow moving courts, the need for additional training on handling digital evidence in hearings and trials, and lack of prosecutors.

During the lockdowns from March to May 2020, OSEC cases received by the Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime were 264 percent higher than the cases reported in the same period in 2019.

In 2020, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 1794, which seeks to strengthen Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

The measure seeks to provide standards and guidelines on surveillance, interception, investigation, and prosecution of different forms of human trafficking, including sexual exploitation, prostitution, and pornography.

It mandates internet service providers to block and filter any access to child pornography.

Tourism-oriented establishments are also tasked to train their staff to recognize signs of human trafficking.

“Sa pamamagitan ng isinusulong nating batas na layong patatagin ang ating mga batas kontra human trafficking, hangad nating maligtas ang ating mga kabataan sa ganitong uri ng pang-aabuso at karahasan,” Gatchalian said.