Group to solons: Amend anti-trafficking law
MANILA, Philippines — A nongovernmental organization (NGO) urged lawmakers to amend the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003, in particular the confidentiality clause it deemed partial to offenders.
Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the law currently protects the right to privacy of both the victim and the accused, allowing traffickers to continue their illegal activities.
“We believe in the need to protect the identities of the victims but not the accused especially if they have outstanding warrants of arrest,” Ople said.
Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 states that “at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under this act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused.”
“The only thing we [NGOs] can hold on to is our advocacy, so how can we prevent trafficking if none of us can tell anyone who preys on the victims,” said Ople, pointing out that trafficking is a transnational crime that involves syndicates with power and resources.
She said her organization has asked the Senate labor committee, headed by Senator Jose Estrada, to amend the law.
Ople said Estrada has asked her group to draft the appropriate amendments.
“We see that there is a loophole in this law, and that’s what we’re trying to work out,” said Ople, daughter of the late Senator Blas Ople.