MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has thrown its support on the bill proposed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that seeks to protect the youth from becoming victims of human trafficking.
During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Youth chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva, DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali lauded Gatchalian’s measure as it institutionalizes and further strengthens DepEd Order No. 40, series of 2012 or the Child Protection Policy of the department.
“Hopefully this (bill) would become a law. It will now become a mandate that cannot be changed by any administration who may ever sit to head our department,” Umali said.
Earlier, Gatchalian pushes for Senate Bill No.992 or the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act that seeks to create a comprehensive Human Trafficking Preventive Program which will be established by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking and will be implemented through school-based and community-based tracks.
The program aims to inculcate among the youth their fundamental rights as persons, educate them on the dangers of human trafficking in its various forms, and arm them with information on the services made available by the government and other non-government organizations to protect them from human trafficking.
“Although everyone is focused on the fight against drugs, human trafficking remains a real and present problem of our country. That is why we propose to institutionalize this fight, to make it more extensive without adding so much burden to the schools,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian recounted his previous encounters with human trafficking victims who fell prey to syndicates because of their innocence and lack of guidance.
The senator added that some willingly chose to engage in such activities out of a desperate need to support their families.
“Human trafficking is a silent crime that victimizes our students, primarily because of poverty. With the power of social media, more people as young as 15 years old are even enticed to get involved in crimes like prostitution and forced labor. That’s what we want to prevent – that they become willing victims of human trafficking,” Gatchalian said.