Bicameral committee to meet on human trafficking bill
MANILA, Philippines - Legislators from both the House of Representatives and the Senate will meet on Monday, November 12 for a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions for a bill to amend RA 9208 on human trafficking.
“There are major amendments which we seek to introduce into the original law," Sen Loren Legarda said in a statement on Sunday, November 11.
Legarda wants the future law on human trafficking to include new provisions on:
- Strengthening prosecution of pre-empted acts of trafficking
- Protection to victims in the various states of the investigation and prosecution processes
- Permanent secretariat
- Stronger penalties
The senator explained these proposed amendments will "significantly improve the efforts against human trafficking" after the United Nations Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said the Philippines has failed to curb the problem in recent years, despite high-profile government efforts and the country's removal from a US watchlist.
The fight against human trafficking in the Philippines has also been affected recently by the charges filed by the United States Agency for International Development against the Visayan Forum, a group famous for raiding brothels and slavery dens but now accused of fraud. (Read: Visayan Forum: From US 'hero' to foe)
Legarda hopes to have a reconciled version of the bill in time for the UN International Day Against Human Trafficking on December 12.
“More than nine years after RA 9208 was passed, we have seen 100 convictions. This is by no means an indication that we have won the battle against trafficking; but we have to take notice of the rising conviction numbers over the years,” she added. - Rappler.com