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President Benigno S. Aquino III signed the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act that plugs the loopholes in the existing law to effectively fight such offense, the Palace confirmed on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the signing of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act will make the government’s fight against human trafficking more effective.
A year ago, the US State Department removed the Philippines from the Tier 2 category in its Annual Trafficking in Person report but the country remains in the watchlist.
“We’re still in the watchlist. We would like to improve our standing in the watchlist and we hope that, with this expanded coverage of anti-trafficking, we will be able to remove ourselves from the watchlist,” Lacierda said.
“This is a concern and a priority of the President and this measure will be enforced by the different agencies, especially the Department of Justice as well as our police agencies.”
Lawmakers has called on the President to immediately sign the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to address human trafficking in the country particularly in disaster areas where women and children were being victimized.
The expanded law is a strengthened version of the Anti-Trafficking Law, covering attempted trafficking. It has accessory or accomplice liability, which covers more related acts and individuals.
Recruitment in the guise of domestic or overseas employment for sexual exploitation, forced labor or involuntary debt bondage, can now be considered human trafficking.
Also, included in the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act are recruitment of any Filipino woman to marry a foreigner, engagement in sex tourism, recruitment for organ removal and recruitment of a child to engage in armed activities abroad are human trafficking and punishable under the law.