Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today called for a review of the law on anti-trafficking in persons and the performance of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
“The case of Mary Jane Veloso serves as a rude awakening for all of us that despite our efforts much remains to be done to combat all forms of human trafficking,” Marcos said.
Convicted for bringing in over 2 kilos of heroin in Indonesia, Veloso was due for execution along with eight other foreigners Tuesday but got a last-minute reprieve to allow her to testify against a “perpetrator suspected of human trafficking”.
The reprieve came after Ma. Cristina Sergio, the woman who allegedly recruited her to work as domestic helper abroad and tricked her into carrying the illegal drugs in Indonesia, voluntarily surrendered to Philippine authorities.
“We need to revisit our anti-trafficking in persons law to find out if we need to improve its provisions and review the performance of the IACAT to determine if it’s in the side of implementation where our effort is lacking,” Marcos said.
He noted that based on the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released on June 2014, the Philippine remains on Tier 2 classification.
In the TIP Report the US Department of State places each country into one of three tiers based on their government’s efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as found in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA).
“Tier 1” countries are those whose governments fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking while “Tier 2” countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to comply.
“Tier 3” countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Marcos added that while the TIP recognized the Philippine government’s efforts to prosecute sex and labor trafficking offenses and to impose stringent sentences on convicted sex traffickers “it did not make progress in convicting labor traffickers and its overall number of convictions remained low compared to the size of the problem.”
Senate Bill No. 2625: Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Person Act 2010 (co-authored by Sen. Bongbong)
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