Bill sets tighter gov’t watch on Pogos
Sen. Risa Hontiveros has called on agencies of the government to impose tighter measures to monitor the activities of the online gaming industry, which have been used as avenues for human trafficking and sexual exploitation of Filipino women.
She filed Senate Bill No. 1929 which seeks to mandate the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to “address policy gaps” in the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, including the tighter monitoring of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) and other amusement venues.
“We have investigated for almost a year the corruption in the Bureau of Immigration (BI), which paved the way for the trafficking of women. The rise of Pogos has been found to increase the vulnerability to trafficking and prostitution of our own women, our own girls,” Hontiveros said.
The senator’s proposed bill comes on the heels of a series of committee investigations that revealed how Chinese women were trafficked into the Philippines to service Chinese Pogo employees.
Fit the times
Hontiveros’ bill seeks to prohibit convicted alien sex offenders from entering the country.
It also mandates the Department of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the BI and the Department of Justice, to ensure that sex offenders should not be able to step foot in the Philippines.
Hontiveros said legislation “must be updated to fit the times.”
SB 1929 seeks to include the use of online and digital platforms as means for human trafficking.
It also imposes penalties on private facilities, such as internet service providers, financial intermediaries, transport services, including their online applications, that knowingly allow the use of their facilities, whether digital or physical, for purposes of trafficking.
“The technology giants cannot feign to be hands-off on this issue. Their platforms have made it easier and faster for many abusers to violate our women and children,” Hontiveros said.
She said these online technology companies should now be made accountable for their products, and to compel them to help secure a measure of justice for victim-survivors.
The measure also expands the definition of trafficking in persons to include the online sexual exploitation of children, Hontiveros said, citing reports that the Philippines has been tagged as a global hot spot of the crime.
“New technologies show no signs of slowing down, but these are now used to harass, exploit and abuse our women in a myriad of pernicious ways,” she said, adding how the coronavirus pandemic, which forces many activities to go online, has supposedly worsened the exploitation of women and girls.
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