Vice President and Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) chairman emeritus Jejomar C. Binay has strongly recommended to the Philippine National Police (PNP) the adoption of a one-strike policy for chiefs of police who failed to monitor or stop human trafficking in their respective jurisdictions.
“The IACAT cannot sustain continuous raids. It would be better to warn the police chiefs that they may be removed with just one lapse,” the Vice President told Justice Undersecretary Jose Salazar, who acts as chair of the anti-trafficking body in a meeting Monday.
“Conducting these raids is time-consuming. The better approach is to set preventive measures,” he added.
The directive was made in light of the reports made by Raymond Lledo, chairman of the National Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking, of a number of rescue missions made in brothels in several localities.
“It is unbelievable that the chief of police of a Local Government Unit is not aware of cases of human trafficking in his/her area, therefore they must lead the drive in eradicating its existence,” Binay said.
The Vice President said he is confident Philippine National Police Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome will adopt this one-strike policy.
The Vice President also proposed the establishment of half-way houses for trafficking victims. The said shelters, which will be built in local government units, will provide counseling and psychological assistance.
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting at the Department of Justice, the IACAT decided to designate a Technical Working Group that will come up with a clear-cut and comprehensive off-loading policy.
The Bureau of Immigration will submit to the IACAT all its guidelines and issuances regarding the policy.
Off-loading is the policy of preventing the departure of Filipinos who are bound for certain destinations. The Vice President has recently asked the BI to clarify the policy as response to the spate of complaints of undue discretion by Immigration officers from passengers.
Under the Immigration Act, an immigration officer has the power to offload a passenger if he/she thinks the person has committed a crime, is using spurious travel documents, or is using a tourist visa but intends to work abroad.
“I believe there is a need for BI to have proper guidelines in the offloading of passengers. The basis for preventing a Filipino from leaving the country should be clearly spelled out to minimize the exercise of discretion on the part of immigration personnel,” Binay said last week.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NAIA-TFATP) has reported that a total of 471 Filipinos have been offloaded as of September 30 this year. Twenty eight minors, 274 “tourist workers” and 169 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were among those prevented from leaving the country due to alleged irregularities in their travel documents. Most of the offloaded passengers were bound for countries like Jordan and Syria where the Philippines currently has a deployment ban.