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Congress asked for bigger budget for anti-trafficking

THE Department of Justice-Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DoJ-Iacat) is asking Congress for a bigger budget to help boost its campaign against all forms of human trafficking, including online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Justice Undersecretary Felix Ty — undersecretary in charge, Iacat — on Monday said that they asked Congress to increase their budget to P150 million from the current P79 million that both chambers of Congress approved during their deliberations of the proposed 2024 national budget.

Ty disclosed that the original budget proposal for Iacat was P99 million but was slashed by Congress to P79 million; thus, they were asking for an additional P71 million.

Part of the budget, he insisted, would also be for the hiring of necessary personnel under the Iacat and the offices under it created by Republic Act 11930, or the «Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (Osaec)» and the «Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act.»

«So far, we're getting positive response in our efforts to reach out to both Houses of Congress. Hopefully, they will grant our request when it reaches the bicameral committee,» Ty said at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon forum.

Ty said that Iacat, in coordination with law enforcement agencies of the government, is having its hands full in combating, among others, online sexual abuse of children, as well as against illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), where a lot of human trafficking activities are taking place.

«We have specific programs, depending on the kind of trafficking we are working on. In the case of online sexual abuse exploitation of children, we have a multi-prong program. We have continuous operations against facilitators of human trafficking,» he added.

Ty also mentioned that they were working on a sexual offender registry, which, once completed, would augment the ongoing campaign of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) against foreign sex offenders who come to the Philippines for paid sex and exploitation of children.

Records show that the BI has already intercepted more than 150 foreign sex offenders since January this year.