Strengthened law vs human trafficking urged

September 3, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 262 views

CAMARINES Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte on Friday said he wants Congress to strengthen the existing law against human trafficking by redefining this transnational crime to include online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Villafuerte said the substitute bill on this measure that was already approved by a House aims to attune Republic Act (RA) No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003, to the times when the rapid changes indigital technology led to new ways for sexual abusers and human traffickers to scout for victims.

The substitute bill, which consolidates Villafuerte’s proposal with those of similar measures sponsored separately by his fellow legislators, was endorsed for plenary approval by Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, who chairs the House committee on the welfare of children.

“In the same way that human traffickers are now taking advantage of new technologies to exploit women and children and other potential victims, we should also strengthen our law enforcement capabilities to go after these criminals by also using available modern methods and technologies in hunting them down,” Villafuerte said.

He said his original proposal under House Bill (HB) 8295 seeks “to use technology to the law’s advantage instead of allowing it to perpetrate crime.”

“It also aims to obligate internet service providers and tourism-oriented establishments to notify law enforcement agencies within 7 days of any form of child trafficking, child pornography, or any form of sexual exploitation of children committed under their facilities,” Villafuerte said.

Under the committee-approved version, the Philippine National Police

(PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or any of their representatives duly authorized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in writing, can submit ex-parte applications for the issuance of written orders from the court, to conduct “wiretapping” or interception on any communication in pursuing the crime of trafficking.

It also makes it unlawful to use online digital platforms to commit any trafficking in persons.

The bill includes additional provisions for qualified trafficking when the persons trafficked are persons with disability (PWDs), belong to an indigenous community, when the crime is committed in times of crisis or emergency, when the crime has resulted to pregnancy, or through the use of information and communications technology or using any computer system.