Senators: Amended anti-trafficking law an important, much-needed victory for women and children

Senators on Wednesday expressed elation over the signing into law of Republic Act 11862 which amends the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, saying it is an important and much-needed victory for women, children, and all victims of human trafficking.

One significant reform under the law is the greater accountability imposed on internet intermediaries for human trafficking activities using their services.

Thus, entities like social media companies or internet providers may no longer turn a blind eye to the trafficking of persons being done on their watch, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the law’s sponsor in the Senate, pointed out.

“As the law’s sponsor in the Senate, I am thankful that RA 11862 will now provide a major boost to government efforts towards stopping human trafficking, prosecuting human traffickers, and helping trafficked persons recover and live better lives,” said Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

“The law also introduced stronger mechanisms against labor trafficking, and expanded protections for human trafficking victims—particularly women and girls,” she added.

Hontiveros said she dedicates “this triumph” to the women and minors who bravely shared with the public their ordeal as human trafficking survivors during her Senate panel’s hearings on the so-called “pastillas” scam and the human trafficking rings in the Middle East.

“Their courage and sense of justice made this new law possible,” she stressed.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also welcomed the signing of RA 11862 saying the law now also covers illegal adoptions, child laundering, and online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“This gives law enforcers additional tools in running after human traffickers. This is also an important step forward in protecting our children, who are among the most vulnerable to human trafficking,” Gatchalian emphasized.

Like Hontiveros, Gatchalian also noted that the law now makes internet intermediaries, including social media networks, tourism and business establishments, and financial intermediaries responsible for, knowingly or by gross negligence, allowing their facilities, infrastructure, and platforms to be used in promoting human trafficking.

“I thank President Rodrigo Duterte for signing this law, which I co-authored and co-sponsored,” he said.