The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) urged local government units to address the issue of human trafficking head-on, using their respective law-making powers. As the country's primary governing body against trafficking in persons, IACAT is asking the local government executives to create an ordinance to localize the implementation of the principal laws against human trafficking.
The ordinance must be based primarily on Republic Act 9208, as amended by Republic Act 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, chairperson of IACAT, stated that the creation of such local legislation empowers LGUs to attend to the problem of human trafficking, from the provincial level down to the barangays.
"This initiative intends to extend the government's fight against all forms of slavery, forced labor and sexual exploitation to the community level," said De Lima.
Part of the government's national strategic plan is to cascade anti-human trafficking activities down to the level of the LGUs by way of local ordinances which will, in effect, provide a localized approach to combat 'modern day slavery' as well as provide a continuity of efforts even if local leaders have moved on.
The ordinance must also contain provisions creating a local council against human trafficking. This Council will serve as the LGUs’ primary unit that will handle issues pertaining trafficking in persons and other related offenses. The created units by the LGUs can coordinate with IACAT which can provide capacity development trainings on proper prosecution, victim protection, case detection and child and gender sensitive operations.
The local council's primary function is to formulate a comprehensive and integrated program for the prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons, successful prosecution of offenders, the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked victims, abused women and children into the mainstream of society.
Local government units shall have a free reign in finding funding sources for this initiative. However, the primary source for the activities and programs under the said ordinance may be from the Gender and Development budget allocated to all local governments units.
"We recognize that the autonomy of the LGUs, as provided in the Constitution and the Local Government Code, will allow a more efficient enforcement of human trafficking laws and institute measures to protect its citizens, particularly women and children for a progressive, free and prosperous government unit," De Lima said.
"The government's resolve is tested again and again by the evils of human trafficking. The national government and the LGUs, acting as a community, may yet be the deterrent for this social ills to prosper," de Lima implored.