Identities and circumstances of human trafficking offenders are no longer held “sacred” in the recently signed Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Human Trafficking Law which amended Republic Act 9208 that previously gave confidentiality protection to victims and also erroneously extended the same to human traffickers.
With the new rule on confidentiality, members of the media can now publish or broadcast the names and other circumstances of offenders to give a fair warning to the public not to do business with them and avoid being victimized.
“Those who exploit our citizens should not only be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed. The public should also be informed of their identities to prevent them from being victimized by these individuals…they should also be put to shame for engaging in a crime against our hapless fellow citizens,” Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar, in-charge of IACAT’s day-to-day operations said.
Media was also given more elbow room in reporting cases involving human trafficking (meant to educate and make the public aware about the evils of human trafficking) as it can actually report certain information on the part of the trafficked victim provided that the latter knowingly, voluntarily and willingly signs a written statement expressly waiving such confidentiality, as stated in Section 7 of the law.
Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, Chair of IACAT, stated that the amendment ironed out the inept provisions of the law and justly meted out penalties to those who violate the law.
In 2010, the Philippines was in danger of being relegated to a Tier 3 status (dismal performance in the fight against human trafficking) in the US Department of State human trafficking index for being in the Tier 2-watchlist (a list that included countries having the most number of human trafficking victims and with less government effort to stop forms of human trafficking) for two consecutive years, which would have caused the withdrawal of some $700 million in non-humanitarian, non-trade related aid including grants from the millennium challenge program.
As a result of the intensified effort of the Aquino Administration, the country’s status was upgraded a notch higher to Tier 2 in 2011 and maintained the status in 2012. Tier 2 countries are those which have shown significant efforts to fight human trafficking but have yet to fully comply with standards set by the United States' Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report.
The amendment to the original law was signed by President Benigno Aquino III last February 06, 2013, revising Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
“We are optimistic that these amended provisions shall serve its purpose and be a notice to trafficking syndicates that their actions will no longer be tolerated, will be subjected to stiffer penalties and even humiliation,” Salazar added.