Win Gatchalian wants more funding for anti-human trafficking efforts

Senator Win Gatchalian said during the Senate Committee on Finance's hearing that wants more funding allocated for the country's anti-trafficking efforts. (Photo: Senator Win Gatchalian/Facebook)
Senator Win Gatchalian said during the Senate Committee on Finance's hearing that wants more funding allocated for the country's anti-trafficking efforts. (Photo: Senator Win Gatchalian/Facebook)

Allocate more funds for anti-trafficking efforts, including online sexual exploitation of children, Senator Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian urged after he flagged a decrease in the allocated budget for this effort.

During the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the proposed 2023 budget for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies, Gatchalian said that there was a 35% budget cut on the budget for anti-trafficking in persons enforcement, from the P90 million allocated under the 2022 General Appropriations Act, down to only P59 million under the 2023 National Expenditures Program.

He also called for the full implementation, and funding, of laws such as the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022, which was signed into law in June, and the Anti-Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Act, which lapsed into law in July.

“Human trafficking is a clear and present danger in our country. It’s still happening right now,” Gatchalian said.

In the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report of the United States Department of State released on July 19, the Philippines maintained its Tier 1 ranking, which means that “the [Philippine] government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity.”

However, the report also flagged the Philippines’ lack of rigorous reporting and probing of labor trafficking crimes, and holding erring officials to account.

“[I]t did not report vigorously investigating labor trafficking crimes that occurred within the Philippines or take adequate steps to investigate and arrest individuals suspected of purchasing commercial sex from trafficking victims, nor did it provide training for labor inspectors on indicators of human trafficking,” the State Department said.

When Gatchalian asked the DOJ if the reduced budget would affect the Philippines’ Tier 1 ranking, DOJ Undersecretary Nicky Ty answered in the affirmative.

“If we can increase the budget just a bit more, so much the better,” Gatchalian said.

He also assured the DOJ that he will support the government’s crackdown on human trafficking.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

Watch more videos on Yahoo: