Senate inquiry on PH’s initiatives to strengthen anti-trafficking programs sought
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the Philippine government’s actions to strengthen its anti-trafficking in persons program, especially for international-bound Filipino passengers.
Villanueva’s measure – Senate Resolution (SR) No. 762 – states that there is a need to evaluate the existing programs being implemented by the government in order to combat trafficking in persons.
This, after the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) announced that it will be implementing its revised guidelines for the departure of Filipinos traveling abroad beginning September 3.
With this development, Filipinos will be required to present more documents and comply with tougher travel regulations.
This, however, did not sit well with netizens and lawmakers alike. For Villanueva, IACAT’s travel guidelines are unreasonable and will put additional burden on Filipino travelers.
“Hindi naman po yata makatarungan na bigyan ng dagdag pasakit ang ating mga kababayan na gusto lamang pumunta sa ibang bansa para mamasyal. Daig pa po nito ang visa application sa dami ng mga kinakailangang dokumento,” Villanueva said in a statement.
(It is not fair to give extra burden to our compatriots who just want to go to another country to enjoy. It even surpasses the visa application in terms of the number of necessary documents.)
According to Villanueva, this prompted him to file SR No. 762 and ask appropriate Senate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the various initiatives of the government to strengthen its anti-trafficking in persons programs.
“The prevention of human trafficking is an inter-agency task that not only involves providing stringent requirements on international-bound Filipinos, but also proper awareness and education among Filipinos, and the apprehension of law enforcement agents and other government officials who facilitate or connive with wrongdoers,” Villanueva said.
Ending his statement, the lawmaker raised an important question: will these new guidelines curb traffickers or just burden passengers?