ALARMED by reports on rampant trafficking and child cyber pornography cases in the country, Sen. Loren Legarda on Friday called on government agencies for the strict implementation of anti-trafficking and child protection laws to put a stop to the illegal human trade.
Legarda addressed her call to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as heads of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to help in totally eliminating trafficking syndicates.
“We ensured the passage of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to strengthen our legal defenses against individuals and syndicates involved in the illegal human trade. The stricter provisions of the law should be matched with its effective implementation,” said Legarda.
Noting recent news reports, Legarda stressed that strengthened cooperation and improved coordination among police organizations in the Philippines, Britain and Australia have led to the arrest of at least 11 suspects of online sexual abuse in the Philippines.
“But this is just one of the many areas that traffickers use as opportunity to advance their devious schemes. Aside from preying on the vulnerable in disaster-stricken areas, these syndicates also use the Internet for sex trafficking,” she added.
To put an end to this complex web of the illegal human trade, the senator said the NBI and the Philippine National Police (PNP) must beef up their efforts to arrest members of these syndicates.
“Strengthening coordination with international police groups is a must,” said Legarda, who is the principal sponsor of Republic Act 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
She added that the International Justice Mission, among other organizations, is also actively coordinating with Philippine police authorities and government social workers for the continuous conduct of rescue missions to save minors from online pornography.
“These successful anti-trafficking and anti-cyber pornography operations prove that our laws are effective if we know how to make them work. We must sustain these gains,” she said.
The Senator also underscored the need to have a law that would specifically address child cyber pornography, stressing the importance of fast tracking the passage of the proposed Anti-Computer Pornography Act under Senate Bill No. 532.
“Through the proposed Anti-Computer Pornography Act, we aim to protect minors from indecent and immoral material transmitted through electronic mail and other electronic media,” she said.
Legarda also called for an immediate enactment of the measure to complement the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and safeguard the welfare of the citizens, particularly women and children.
“Advancements in the Internet and other technological media allowing communication to cross geographic and national borders in a matter of seconds, everything has now become reachable with the click of a button. Most of these technological advancements have been utilized by unscrupulous individuals for illegal activities,” she said. RITCHIE A. HORARIO