58 trafficking cases filed in court yields 6 convictions

A total of 58 trafficking cases in Region XI have been filed in court since Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking Law was enacted in 2003 and it has yielded only six convictions.

“A total of 13 trafficking cases have been dismissed because the victim has desisted and is no longer interested in pursuing the case,” Assistant Regional Prosecutor Barbara Mae Flores said during yesterday’s Club 888 held at Marco Polo Hotel.

She said trafficking means to exploit, transport, recruit, hire or harbor the victim using threat and force or take advantage of the victim’s vulnerability. The purpose of trafficking is for sexual exploitation, forced labor or sale of human organs, she added.

Said 12 of these cases have been archived which usually happens when the accused has not been arrested, while 26 are still active or pending in court. One suspect was acquitted from the trafficking case, she added, although convicted in a child prostitution case.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Social Welfare Officer Pedrita Dimakiling said they have served 129 trafficking cases at their office but not all of them prospered.  Most cases do not proceed to prosecution, she added, because the victim-survivor tends to prioritize the other needs of the family.

However, she said, DSWD provides for the victim’s rehabilitation and reintegration in case the local government could not provide for these requirements.

Flores said the victim or witness in a trafficking case can always seek for protection under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice (DOJ) if they are harassed or threatened. She said there are more or less six victims who are enjoying protection under the program.

Dimakiling said that while the anti-trafficking law has been enacted in 2003, it only became more defined in 2011 after the formation of the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking or IACAT network which further resulted to the formation of three units.

Among these, she said, are the law enforcement unit chaired by the DOJ, the psycho-social unit chaired by DSWD and the Advocacy Council chaired by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Flores said IACAT has to rely on tips when it comes to trafficking cases. However, she added, they cannot go to the area where trafficking is being committed unless they receive a verified report about the crime.

“We hope we can intensify the law enforcement unit so we do not have to wait for the tips to act on trafficking violations,” she said.

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