Gatchalian seeks higher funding vs human trafficking

Published September 25, 2022, 10:10 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has vowed to push for additional funds to augment the government’s crackdown on all forms of human trafficking, including the online sexual abuse or exploitation of children (OSAEC).

Gatchalian earlier flagged the almost 35 percent cut on the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of Justice’s (DOH) anti-trafficking in persons enforcement from P90-million in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) down to P59-million for next year’s appropriation.

“Human trafficking is a clear and present danger in our country. It’s still happening right now,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian emphasized there is an imperative need to fund and implement the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022, a law which he co-authored and sponsored.

The law was signed in June this year. Another similar law he co-authored include the Anti-Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act (Republic Act No. 11930), which lapsed into law last July.

The DOJ earlier confirmed that the budget cut would affect the Philippine’s Tier 1 ranking under the United States Department of State’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Report for 2022 which the country has maintained since 2016.

Countries ranked in Tier 1 have met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons.

According to the DOJ, the two laws would help the government be capable in curtailing human trafficking, OSAEC and other crimes but under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) the budget for training, among others, were completely slashed.

Since the anti-OSAEC and CSAEM law mandates the creation of the National Coordination Center Against OSAEC and CSAEM under the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the DOJ explained they would need more fund to employ more personnel.

Gatchalian, for his part, assured he would support the government’s efforts by looking at possible sources to increase their budget.

“If we can increase the budget just a bit more, so much the better,” he said.