SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian has reiterated his call for better implementation of laws against child trafficking and abuse in the Philippines, citing a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) study indicating that the problem persists.
“It is our duty to enforce the laws to ensure the safety of our youth from various forms of trafficking,” he said in Filipino in a statement on Tuesday.
UNICEF’s Disrupting Harm in the Philippines report showed 20% of Filipino internet users aged 12 to 17 have been victims of grave online sexual abuse and exploitation in 2021. This accounts for about two million minors.
Mr. Gatchalian sought for a stronger crackdown on child traffickers through effective enforcement of newly-passed laws such as the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022, and the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act.
Under the United States’ Trafficking in Persons Report last year, the Philippines remained at the Tier 1 status, meaning the country was able to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The report, however, identified the need for additional personnel and training on handling digital evidence. It also recommended increased support for programs providing specialized care for trafficking victims. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan