The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) welcomed the passage of Republic Act 11862,  the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, that gives authorities additional tools to fight human trafficking, particularly against the use of the internet and digital platforms to commit crimes.

RA 11862 which aims to boost the government campaign against human trafficking was signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte on June 23. It was passed by Congress on   Feb. 2.

The CFO has been actively working to raise public awareness on the problem of human trafficking, considered modern-day slavery, as a member of the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT) and chair of the IACAT-Advocacy Committee (Advocom).  It operates the 24/7 1343 Actionline against Human Trafficking and responds to emergency or crisis calls from victims of human trafficking and their families.

The new law amends RA 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. Among the key provisions of RA 11862 is making accountable “internet intermediaries” who “knowingly or by gross negligence allow their internet infrastructure to be used for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons.”

It also holds accountable “financial intermediaries”, including banks and credit card companies and money transfer or remittance centers, that knowingly or by gross negligence allow their services, online platform, and applications, among others, to be used for promoting trafficking.

Producing, printing, and issuing or distributing unissued, tampered, or fake passports and birth certificates are considered under RA 11862 as acts that promote trafficking in persons.

Law enforcement agencies are mandated to immediately initiate an investigation and counter-trafficking intelligence within 10 days upon receipt of statements, reports, or affidavits from victims of trafficking, migrant workers, or their families, internet intermediaries, and other persons, including those in the private sector, who have personal knowledge or information, about possible violations of RA 11862.

With this new law, CFO reaffirms its commitment to the government’s efforts to build stronger and more efficient mechanisms to protect the rights and life of marginalized sectors, especially women and children who are the most vulnerable to human trafficking.