AKO BICOL Moves to Fight Human Trafficking

HB 4890 Trafficking

Congressman Rodel Batocabe from AKO BICOL Partylist takes a stand to fight all forms of human trafficking that attack and destroy the integrity of the Filipino people.

AKO BICOL Partylist filed House Bill 4890 or the “Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act”. The passage of this legislative measure would integrate a school and community-based approach in educating and informing the youth about their fundamental rights in labor and the dangers of human trafficking.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian proposed a similar measure in the Senate of the Philippines which is currently pending in the Senate Committee on Youth.

“Human trafficking endures in various forms. We must uphold the dignity and rights of the Filipinos by empowering the youth through engaging in various information awareness programs that would equip them with the necessary knowledge not to fall victim from the human traffickers”, Batocabe said.

Human trafficking includes forced labor and sexual exploitation, with the children as the most vulnerable sector from the illegal practices. 2.2 million child laborers from the ages fifteen to seventeen are exposed to dangerous working environments.  Many of the victims work as domestic helpers while some are exploited to participate in prostitution and pornography. Children residing in war-conflicted areas are also susceptible for recruitment in armies.

Philippines remain a Tier 2 Country, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. It signifies that the government has not yet met the minimum standards to battle human trafficking.

“The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) noted 1,824 human trafficking victims in 2014, with the numbers likely projecting a mere fraction of the total number, taking into account the unreported and unrecorded cases”, Batocabe said. “The missing figures may be attributed to the lack of information Filipinos have in what constitutes as human trafficking”, Batocabe said.

The proposed legislative measure mandates the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Council) to formulate a Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program to educate the youth on their fundamental rights concerning labor, employment, and human security. The comprehensive program also targets to orient the youth on the dangers of international and domestic human trafficking on practices such as illegal recruitment, unfair labor practices, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation and child labor.

“The shortage of awareness and the gap in information regarding human trafficking provide a culture of impunity for the perpetrators and a burden of injustice for the victims”, Batocabe noted.

“We aim to bridge the services and programs of government agencies and NGOs to aid and protect victims of human trafficking.  We will likewise identify victims of human trafficking and direct them to the concerned agencies for their protection and recovery”, Batocabe said.

The human trafficking education program shall address the problem through school-based and community activities. The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development will implement information awareness modules to target students enrolled in junior high, senior high, colleges, universities, and technical or vocational education programs.

In the community level, barangay councils are mandated to educate the out-of-school-youth through the same information-raising activities.

“In order to monitor the progress of the proposed mechanisms to build awareness regarding human trafficking, the Council is tasked to consolidate all reports of the learning institutions and barangay councils regarding the implementation and outcomes of the program”, Batocabe said.

Click on LINK below to view the full version (PDF) of HB 4890:
House Bill 4890: Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act

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