Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has filed a resolution urging the Senate to conduct a full review of the country’s efforts against human trafficking.
In proposed Senate Resolution 1325, filed on May 6, Marcos asked the appropriate committee to conduct a review of Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012 and the performance of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
He said such a review is not only timely “but also critically important to ensure that OFW [overseas Filipino worker]Mary Jane Veloso’s case would be an isolated one and the last of its kind.”
Marcos noted that most convictions involving human trafficking involved domestic cases hence the need to up the ante on cases involving cross-border trafficking as exemplified by the Veloso case.
“There is an urgency to this proposal for a thorough review of the expanded anti-trafficking law considering that there are 92 other Filipinos on death row in other parts of the world for various crimes, and we need to determine whether some of them may also have been victims of trafficking in persons.”
The resolution formalized the senator’s earlier call for such review after the last minute-reprieve granted to Veloso by the Indonesian government last week to enable her to testify against her alleged illegal recruiter.
Veloso was sentenced to death by Jakarta for bringing over two kilos of heroin.
She, however, claimed that Ma. Kristina Sergio, who recruited her to work as domestic helper, tricked her into carrying the suitcase packed with illegal drugs.
After the filing of criminal charges against Sergio and her partner Julius Lacanilao in connection with Veloso’s case, several other complainants against them have surfaced.
Marcos cited the need to review IACAT’s performance to enhance its capability to provide assistance and protection to victims of trafficking.
The senator noted that since 2011, the US has classified the Philippines in the Tier 2 category, referring to countries that have shown significant but not overwhelming progress in the fight against human trafficking.
“It is important that the Philippines show firm, consistent and unquestionable resolve in protecting the welfare of migrant Filipino workers and ensuring their safety when seeking jobs abroad, from time of recruitment to onsite services, as well as toward future reintegration and reunification with their families back home,” Marcos said.