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Solon should amend anti-trafficking law instead of 'babbling' - DOJ exec

October 17, 2008 4:51pm
MANILA, Philippines - Justice Undersecretary Ricardo R. Blancaflor, acting chairman of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), called on Gabriela Representative Liza Maza to amend the anti-trafficking law instead of criticizing the government's efforts.

“Congresswoman Maza’s statements criticizing the anti-trafficking law and undermining our efforts to curb trafficking are downright unfair, inaccurate, and irresponsible", said Blancaflor.

Maza earlier told GMANews.TV that the government should pay more attention to the increasing number of “sexually trafficked" Filipino women workers, most especially in Singapore.

She said the government should take steps on how to remedy the 400,000 migrants being trafficked internally and another 800,000 externally or outside the country.

Blancaflor, however, said there were already 11 convictions and three more cases submitted for decision.

"We realize that human trafficking is a horrendous crime which continues to victimize Filipinos, especially women and children, but the government is not remiss in its efforts to stop it," Blancaflor said in a statement sent to GMANews.TV.

“If Congresswoman Maza is not happy with this law, then why does she not pursue to amend it? How come as a congresswoman for several years, Ms. Maza and her partner legislators have not realized specific amendments to this law?"

Blancaflor cited Section 7 of RA 9208 for possible amendment. The section provides the confidentiality clause that at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial, the right to privacy of the trafficked victim and accused shall be recognized. A violation of this provision is punishable with imprisonment and fines.

"This provision, although with good intentions, acts as a bar for full disclosure of facts. And because of this, IACAT is hesitant in giving out information to the public, which some lawmakers like Maza interpret as inaction on the part of government," Blancaflor said.

“What Congresswoman Maza should be doing is to help us, instead of babbling. If she finds fault in the anti-trafficking law, then amend it. And more importantly, help us fund the law," added Blancaflor.

The IACAT, although created by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, has not received any funding since its creation in 2003.

“We will not hesitate to charge anybody if they’re found guilty of trafficking. We are currently pursuing cases but we cannot divulge these details to the media as that would constitute violation of Section 7 of the law", Blancaflor said. - GMANews.TV