DOJ, DSWD to build center for human trafficking victims

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recently led the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a multi-purpose building that would house victims of human trafficking for their full rehabilitation and recovery.

(From left) Department of Public Works and Highway Secretary Mark Villar, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista and Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra lead the laying of the time capsule for the construction of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking – Tahanan ng Inyong Pag-asa at the DSWD’s Sanctuary Center Welfareville, Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong, City on July 31, 2019. (PNA photo by Ma. Teresa Montemayor)

In her speech, DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said the building, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking – Tahanan ng Inyong Pag-asa (IACAT-TIP) Center, will be established within the premises of the DSWD’s Sanctuary Center Welfareville, Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong, City.

“Often, victims of human trafficking are housed in a small room in the airport with no facilities, and we see this unacceptable. There is a need for a safer and more accessible place where the provision of comprehensive services and interventions responsive to the needs of the survivors will be available,” Aglipay-Villar said.

Saying the DOJ recognizes the need to strengthen the interagency and multidisciplinary approach to trafficking in person cases, Aglipay-Villar stressed the IACAT-TIP Center will be a one-stop-shop for processing the complaints or tips regarding the trafficking of person reports.

Meanwhile, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said victim protection has long been an important component of anti-trafficking law implementation, stressing that “victim-centered and rights-based approach to prosecution recovery and reintegration is important.”

“The Philippines has made headway in the prosecution and response, casework and investigations resulting in 119 convictions with 95 perpetrators convicted in 2018, a 95 percent increase in the convictions as compared to the previous year,” Guevarra said.

“In the 2019 United States Trafficking in Persons Report, where the Philippines is ranked Tier 1 for four consecutive years, one of the priority recommendation for the Philippine government is increased support – government and non-government organization programs that are specialized centers and psychosocial care for the child victims of online sexual exploitation and male victims,” he added.

In response, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said the agency will the government’s goal to retain the Tier 1 status of the country based on the 2019 United States Trafficking in Persons Report.

“The implementation of services like recovery and reintegration programs of trafficked persons is incorporated in DSWD’s priorities for 2019. We express our commitment to providing programs that will respond to the psychosocial and economic needs of trafficked persons through a multi-sectoral approach,” Bautista said.

With the recent enactment of Republic Act 11299 which institutionalizes DSWD’s social welfare attaché, Bautista cited the agency “also keeps an eye on overseas Filipino workers in Riyadh, Jeddah Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, and Malaysia”.

Guevarra added the center will serve female and male trafficking survivors so they can begin their journey towards a better life, adding that DOJ will lead in the prosecution pillar and the DSWD will protect the victims through its recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

Meanwhile, Bautista urged the private sector to continue its support in identifying the challenges and working on the solutions to protect the vulnerable sector and prosecute the perpetrators of human trafficking. (Ma. Teresa Montemayor, PNA)