President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. ordered on Monday the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) to strengthen efforts in eradicating human trafficking.
During a meeting at the Malacañang Palace, Marcos said human trafficking compromised the country's national security and economy.
“The IACAT and the PAOCC must take the lead in harmonizing government initiatives, public-private partnerships to thwart the business of human trafficking in its multifarious operations on the ground and now becoming more and more important online,” Marcos said.
He also said the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) should assist the IACAT in launching a communication campaign that will educate the public about the danger posed by syndicates engaged in the trafficking of persons.
“So heightened public awareness is key. That’s what we spoke about a little bit earlier. The Presidential Communications Office must assist IACAT in its communication campaign against trafficking in persons in order to amplify the effort,” the President said.
Marcos pointed out that good information spearheaded by the PCO was a "key element" in preventing the abuses committed in human trafficking incidents.
Marcos tasked the agencies "to halt the operation of human traffickers who exploit physical and economic weaknesses of vulnerable people, especially women, and children."
Marcos also mentioned that trafficking in persons has been a problem for many nations, especially amid the recovery against COVID-19.
"I think the room for improvement here is that we can work together more and coordinate together more and where – that puts meat on the bones of what we have come to call the whole-of-government approach and bring everything to bear to the problems that we are facing,” Marcos said.
Marcos also related the matter to International Women's Day on March 8, saying, "We are honoring women this month. So let us make sure that we take this time to look after their collective rights and interests in the enforcement and in the measures to remedy all that we implement.”
Meanwhile, Marcos also raised the need for the Philippines to maintain its status in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report tier system, saying that “we must make sure that we do not fall out of Tier 1 into another tier.”
“I remember Secretary [Susan Ople] and I started on this campaign to remove us from Tier 2. We are in danger of coming down to tier 3 at the time. So, we managed to take us back up to Tier 1. And let’s just make sure that the Tier 1 categorization or status of the Philippines is not put in any danger,” Marcos said.
The PCO said countries and territories under Tier 1 fully comply with the minimum standards while those under Tier 2 do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. — DVM, GMA Integrated News