Sarmiento urges House to pass Expanded Anti Trafficking in Persons Act

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento urged Congress to support the
Expanded Anti Human Trafficking in Person Bill which has been approved
by the Committee on Revision of Laws and is now awaiting endorsement
by the  Committee on Appropriations.

Speaking during the observance of the International Day Against Human
Trafficking, Sarmiento,  said  the meausure has gone through various
public hearing with trafficking survivors, non-government
organizations, and national government offices especially the
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

The bill strengthens the government’s campaign against the crime that
victimizes mostly women and children, said Sarmiento, main author of
the bill.

The bill proposes a longer prison term of reclusion from reclusion
temporal with corresponding fines ranging from P50,000 to P5 million.

The measure likewise strips of the accused the privilege of
confidentiality which according to NGOs has been used by traffickers
to harass investigators and prosecutors.

The proposed bill also include penalizing attempt trafficking since
the old law requires trafficking to be proven before prosecution.
Sarmiento’s bill imposes penalties to those indirectly trafficking
through intermediaries and to the accomplices and accessory of the
act.

The bill moreover expressly provides for the appropriations and the
basic structure of the IACAT.

But Sarmiento said that the most important feature of the bill is that
it gives the DSWD automatic protective custody of the victims. In the
old law there exists confusion as to whether or not child victim
should be immediately returned to family or guardian- who may be
uncooperative, or influenced not to pursue the case.

The bill underscores the country’s policy to recognize the inherent
human dignity of men and women as enshrined in the United Nations
Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the United Nations
convention on the elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against
Women.

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