The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children Act was first filed in the Ninth Congress of the Philippines and was passed on the third reading in the House of Representatives in the Eleventh Congress. The Senate of the Philippines passed on third and final reading an urgent measure penalizing trafficking against women. The proposed Anti-Trafficking Act has been pending since the 9th Congress. Various government agencies and nongovernmental organizations have faithfully and vigilantly monitored the movement and progress of this measure, driven by the goal to eliminate and suppress trafficking activities.
Philippines ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplementing the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime on September 30, 2001. The definition of trafficking in persons in the Philippines' bill is very similar to that of the Protocol. The version of the bill on Anti-trafficking passed in the House of Representatives defines trafficking in persons as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring or receipt of persons with or without the victim's consent or knowledge through legal or illegal means within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal or the sale of organs."1
The enactment of the bill will address the cases against sex trafficking among women and children. The bill would prohibit the trafficking of women and children for prostitution and forced labor purposes, stop sex tours in the country, criminalize the use of the Internet to promote prostitution and sexual exploitation, and define the roles of the various government agencies in the campaign against trafficking of women and children.
Furthermore, the bill proposes the creation of an inter-agency mechanism to: 1) apprehend illegal recruiters, pimps and others who facilitate the trade; 2) protect and support trafficked persons; and 3) initiate bilateral agreements between sending and receiving countries for legal and logistical support. It also imposes still penalties for the perpetrators and decriminalizes victims by removing culpability from them.2
Senate President Franklin M. Drilon will introduce key amendments the week of March 17, 2003 to the bill in order to give it more teeth and ensure its effective implementation once it is enacted into law. He mentioned in a news release issued from his Office that he wants to tighten language of the bill so that prosecution of offenders or the women traffickers will be easier and more effective. Furthermore, he mentioned that he would like to plug all legal loopholes in order to ensure government law enforcers are given adequate powers to curb trafficking. 3
The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) is requesting the Office of the President through the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) to certify the bill as urgent.
2Press Release. "NCRFW Launches 16-Day Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence, Urges Senate to Pass Anti-Trafficking Bill." November 25, 2003. http://www.ncrfw.gov.ph/
3News Release. Office of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon. "Drilon Amendments to Give More Teeth to Anti-Trafficking Bill." March 18, 2003. http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_rel/drilon2_mar18.htm
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