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JPIC-IDC, media discuss anti-trafficking laws

BUTUAN CITY, Sept. 20 (PIA) – The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center, Incorporated (JPIC-IDC Inc.) discussed the relevant laws on anti-trafficking in persons, with the media partners coming from the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

Atty. Howell Rex Mabale, President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Surigao del Sur Chapter reiterated that trafficking in persons (TIP) is an illegal act and is considered a violation of human rights and inimical to human dignity and national development.

“There are three interrelated and interdependent elements that must be present in a situation to be considered within the purview of Republic Act 9208, as amended by Republic Act 10364. These elements are (1) acts, (2) means, and (3) purpose,” bared Mabale.

Mabale explained that acts involves recruitment, obtaining, hiring, providing, offering, transportation, transfer, maintaining, harboring, or receipt of persons, with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders.

“As to means, it is committed by use of threat, or of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person; while the purpose is done for the purpose of exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, involuntary servitude or the removal or sale of organs,” he said.

When asked who can file cases for trafficking in persons, Atty. Mabale underscored that the following persons may file such cases: any person, including a law enforcement office, who has personal knowledge of the commission of the offense; the trafficked person or the offended party; parents or legal guardians; spouse; siblings; or children.

Mabale also emphasized that cases involving trafficking in persons should not be dismissed based on the affidavit of desistance executed by the victims or their parents or legal guardians. Prosecutors are directed to oppose and manifest objections to motions for dismissal.

The good lawyer also clarified that trafficking cases can be filed within 10 years after they are committed. He said that if trafficking is committed by a syndicate or on a large scale against a child, cases can be filed within 20 years after the commission of the act. “The prescriptive period is counted from the day the trafficked person is delivered or released from the conditions of bondage,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, there are mandatory services available for trafficked persons under Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364, which include temporary housing and food facilities; psychological support and counseling; free legal services; medical or psychological services; livelihood and skills training; educational assistance to a trafficked child; and 24-hour call center for crisis calls and technology-based counseling and referral system.

“This is to ensure their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into the mainstream society,” underlined Mabale.

During the forum, the participating media suggested to JPIC-IDC to organize another activity wherein other government agencies directly involved in the implementation of the law could also join and impart their respective programs and accomplishments, as well as create a unified system, where they could apply in the actual rescue operations of the trafficked persons in the region. | PIA

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