A proposal that seeks to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Act has been approved by the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Welfare of Children on Wednesday, August 25.
The committee consolidated House Bills 5609, 5651, 5684, 8295, 8534, and 1239 that all proposed to strengthen the policies on anti-trafficking in persons.
During the deliberation, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said the agency is one with the commitment in pushing for the inclusion of the provision on the “interception of communication for cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).”
Villar said that while the IACAT, which is led by the Department of Justice (DOJ), has a good rate of conviction of OSAEC cases, “a lot” of offenders have yet to be arrested or face charges because of lack of evidence.
“This is what we really need. We have been asked several times by the Executive, the President, by the representatives what we need and we emphasized…that this provision of interception of communication is what we need,” Villar told the House committee.
“We want this evil to end, the exploitation of our children to end..and this is one of the tools that will be necessary to do that,” she added.”
Noel Eballe of the Internal Justice Mission (IJM) said based on data, 77 percent of successful investigations on trafficking cases had undercover engagements.
Gabriela Partylist Representative Arlene Brosas, for her part, raised concern on the provision on the interception of communication.
“How will you inform the person who is believed to have committed, is committing, or about to commit trafficking but was not proven that he or she sis subjected to surveillance and interception of communication? Paano pag walang napatunayan sa hinihinalang nag commit o mag co-commit at na intercept na ang undercover LEO (law enforcement officer), pwede bang magkaso ang sinubject to surveillance (What if they were not able to prove that the suspected person really committed or is committing the crime and that person was already intercepted by the undercover LEO, can the person who was subjected to surveillance file a case?),” Brosas asked the committee.
However, since the proposed bill was already passed before the Gabriela representative made her statement, the committee moved that the questions raised by Brosas will be tackled in the plenary.