• PH ratifies convention vs human trafficking

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    The Philippines has ratified the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) convention against trafficking in persons, especially women and children (Actip).

    The country was the sixth Asean member state to ratify the convention after Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

    During her call on ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh to deposit the Philippine instrument of ratification, the country’s Permanent Representative to Asean Elizabeth Buensuceso said that President Rodrigo Duterte gives importance to the fight against trafficking in persons, which he reiterated during the launch of the Philippine chairmanship in Davao City on January 15.

    Buensuceso stressed that the ratification of the Actip is in the “dream list” of deliverables during the Philippine chairmanship of Asean this year.

    Once the Actip is enforced, it will be implemented along with the Asean plan of action against trafficking in persons, especially women and children. As trafficking in persons requires multi-sectoral collaboration, the relevant Asean sectoral bodies and organs are discussing measures to coordinate cross-cutting efforts in implementing the Actip and APA on both national and regional levels.

    The Philippines as the lead shepherd for trafficking in persons within the Asean senior officials/ministerial meeting on transnational crime.

    Senate action

    On Monday, 14 senators filed a resolution that international treaties and agreements ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate should be terminated or abrogated by the same authority that gave it effect.

    Senate Resolution No. 289 principally authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon stated that “the power to bind the Philippines by a treaty and international agreement is vested jointly by the Constitution in the President and the Senate.”

    The chamber came up with the resolution days after officials of the House of Representatives insisted that the Philippines should not be bound by international treaties because agreements should be in compliance with the 1987 Constitution.

    Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier maintained that the Philippine constitution allows congress to reimpose death penalty and an international treaty can’t change that.

    Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Justice committee, noted that just like any other law, an international treaty can also be amended.

    According to him, the death penalty bill may include a provision terminating or amending an international treaty.

    The Senate committee on justice and human rights suspended last week its hearing on proposed measures reinstating the death penalty after some members of the panel questioned their legality.

    Drilon said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Philippines ratified in 1966 and 1986, compels the Philippines to respect and observe fundamental freedoms which include freedom from arbitrary deprivation of life and freedom from cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment.

    The Philippines is also a party to the Second Optional Protocol on Sept. 20, 2006 and its Annex was ratified on Nov. 20, 2007.

    The Second Optional Protocol forbids the signatory states, including the Philippines, from conducting executions.

    “A treaty or international agreement ratified by the President and concurred in by the Senate becomes part of the law of the land and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect,” the resolution stated.

    Those who signed the resolution include Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, Minority Leader Ralph Recto, Senators Benigno Aquino 4th, Leila De Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Miguel Zuibiri, Gregorio Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sonny Angara, and Joel Villanueva. With

    Jefferson Antiporda

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