PCW to Senate: Pass bill that amends anti-trafficking law

Stricter implementation to prevent women enslavement and put criminals into jail is the call of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) following the closing of the amendment period of Senate Bill No. 2625 (An Act Amending R.A 9208 or Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act).

“Human trafficking is a global business that exploits people for labor and sexual purposes. Women and children, because of their vulnerabilities, end up being enslaved,” Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Chairperson Remedios I. Rikken said.

The bill amendments submitted by Senators Loren Legarda and Miriam Defensor-Santiago to the Senate review committee included the repeal of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code which still classifies prostitution as crime by virtue of RA. 10158 (An Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy), which was signed into law last March 27. Under the said law, poor or homeless people can no longer be put to jail but women engaged in prostitution would be penalized.

Rikken said that the country should go after the pimps and not after the victims of trafficking brought into prostitution. “Instead of arresting them or treating them as perpetrators, we should give them legal protection because they are being victimized over and over again. Their human rights are denied,” Rikken said.

Also included in the proposed amendments are (1) restoring the original phrase “to maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography” as included in the acts of trafficking in persons, (2) removing the proposed voluntary waiver of victims on the confidentiality provision so the information provided would not be abused by authorities, and (3) retaining the original definition of “use of trafficked persons” as “any person who buys or engages the services of a trafficked person for prostitution.”

“The Philippine Commission on Women supports the immediate approval of the Senate Bill No. 2625 and we are hope that this would be passed before the Senate takes its recess,” Rikken said.

The bill is sponsored by Legarda and co-sponsored by Senators Pia Cayetano and Jinggoy Estrada.