I. Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003

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“Trafficking in Persons” – refers to the recruitment, obtaining, hiring, providing, offering, transportation, transfer, maintaining, harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat, or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs.

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, adoption or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation or when the adoption is induced by any form of consideration for exploitative purposes shall also be considered as ‘trafficking in persons’ even if it does not involve any of the means set forth in the preceding paragraph. (Section 3[a], R.A. 9208, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, as amended)

“Child” – refers to a person below eighteen (18) years of age or one who is over eighteen (18) but is unable to fully take care of or protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition. (Section 3[b], Ibid.)

“Prostitution” – refers to any act, transaction, scheme or design involving the use of a person by another, for sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration. (Section 3[c], Ibid.)

“Forced Labor” – refers to the extraction of work or services from any person by means of enticement, violence, intimidation or threat, use of, force or coercion, including deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority or moral ascendancy, debt-bondage or deception including any work or service extracted from any person under the menace of penalty. (Section 3[d], Ibid.)

“Slavery” – refers to the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. (Section 3[e], Ibid.)

“Involuntary Servitude” – refers to a condition of enforced and compulsory service induced by means of any scheme, plan or pattern, intended to cause a person to believe that if he or she did not enter into or continue in such condition, he or she or another person would suffer serious harm or other forms of abuse or physical restraint, or threat of abuse or harm, or coercion including depriving access to travel documents and withholding salaries, or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process. (Section 3[f], Ibid.)

“Sex Tourism” – refers to a program organized by travel and tourism-related establishments and individuals which consists of tourism packages or activities, utilizing and offering escort and sexual services as enticement for tourists. This includes sexual services and practices offered during rest and recreation periods for members of the military. (Section 3[g], Ibid.)

“Sexual Exploitation” – refers to participation by a person in prostitution, pornography or the production of pornography, in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration or where the participation is caused or facilitated by any means of intimidation or threat, use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, debt bondage, abuse of power or of position or of legal process, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person; or in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct caused or facilitated by any means as provided in this Act. (Section 3[h], Ibid.)

“Debt Bondage” – refers to the pledging by the debtor of his/her personal services or labor or those of a person under his/her control as security or payment for a debt, when the length and nature of services is not clearly defined or when the value of the services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. (Section 3[i], Ibid.)

“Pornography” – refers to any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent shows, information technology, or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purposes. (Section 3[j], Ibid.)

1. Crimes

a. Acts of trafficking in persons

It shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to commit any of the following acts:

1) To recruit, obtain, hire, provide, offer, transport, transfer, maintain, harbor, or receive a person by any means, including those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, or sexual exploitation;

2) To introduce or match for money, profit, or material, economic or other consideration, any person or, as provided for under Republic Act No. 6955, any Filipino woman to a foreign national, for marriage for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling or trading him/her to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

3) To offer or contract marriage, real or simulated, for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling, or trading them to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor or slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

4) To undertake or organize tours and travel plans consisting of tourism packages or activities for the purpose of utilizing and offering persons for prostitution, pornography or sexual exploitation;

5) To maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography;

6) To adopt persons by any form of consideration for exploitative purposes or to facilitate the same for purposes of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

7) To adopt or facilitate the adoption of persons for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

8) To recruit, hire, adopt, transport, transfer, obtain, harbor, maintain, provide, offer, receive or abduct a person, by means of threat or use of force, fraud, deceit, violence, coercion, or intimidation for the purpose of removal or sale of organs of said person;

9) To recruit, transport, obtain, transfer, harbor, maintain, offer, hire, provide, receive or adopt a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad;

10) To recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, obtain, maintain, offer, hire, provide or receive a person by means defined in Section 3 of this Act for purposes of forced labor, slavery, debt bondage and involuntary servitude, including a scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person either:

(a) To believe that if the person did not perform such labor or services, he or she or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or,

(b) To abuse or threaten the use of law or the legal processes; and

11) To recruit, transport, harbor, obtain, transfer, maintain, hire, offer, provide, adopt or receive a child for purposes of exploitation or trading them, including but not limited to, the act of baring and/or selling a child for any consideration or for barter for purposes of exploitation. Trafficking for purposes of exploitation of children shall include:

(a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and forced labor, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;

(b) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances;

(c) The use, procuring or offering of a child for the production and trafficking of drugs; and

(d) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illegal activities or work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm their health, safety or morals; and

12) To organize or direct other persons to commit the offenses defined as acts of trafficking under this Act. (Section 4, Ibid.)

b. Attempted trafficking in persons

Where there are acts to initiate the commission of a trafficking offense but the offender failed to or did not execute all the elements of the crime, by accident or by reason of some cause other than voluntary desistance, such overt acts shall be deemed as an attempt to commit an act of trafficking in persons. As such, an attempt to commit any of the offenses enumerated in Section 4 of this Act shall constitute attempted trafficking in persons.

In cases where the victim is a child, any of the following acts shall also be deemed as attempted trafficking in persons:

1) Facilitating the travel of a child who travels alone to a foreign country or territory without valid reason therefor and without the required clearance or permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, or a written permit or justification from the child’s parent or legal guardian;

2) Executing, for a consideration, an affidavit of consent or a written consent for adoption;

3) Recruiting a woman to bear a child for the purpose of selling the child;

4) Simulating a birth for the purpose of selling the child; and

5) Soliciting a child and acquiring the custody thereof through any means from among hospitals, clinics, nurseries, daycare centers, refugee or evacuation centers, and low-income families, for the purpose of selling the child. (Section 4-A, Ibid.)

Accomplices: Whoever knowingly aids, abets, cooperates in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts defined in this Act shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of Section 10(c) of this Act. (Section 4-B, Ibid.)

Accessories: Whoever has the knowledge of the commission of the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principal or as accomplices, take part in its commission in any of the following manners:

1) By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime;

2) By concealing or destroying the body of the crime or effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery;

3) By harboring, concealing or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his or her public functions or is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime.

Acts defined in this provision shall be punished in accordance with the provision of Section 10(d) as stated thereto. (Section 4-C, Ibid.)

c. Acts that promote trafficking in persons

The following acts which promote or facilitate trafficking in persons, shall be unlawful:

1) To knowingly lease or sublease, use or allow to be used any house, building or establishment for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;

2) To produce, print and issue or distribute unissued, tampered or fake counseling certificates, registration stickers, overseas employment certificates or other certificates of any government agency which issues these certificates, decals and such other markers as proof of compliance with government regulatory and pre-departure requirements for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;

3) To advertise, publish, print, broadcast or distribute, or cause the advertisement, publication, printing, broadcasting or distribution by any means, including the use of information technology and the internet, of any brochure, flyer, or any propaganda material that promotes trafficking in persons;

4) To assist in the conduct of misrepresentation or fraud for purposes of facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary exit documents from government agencies that are mandated to provide pre-departure registration and services for departing persons for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;

5) To facilitate, assist or help in the exit and entry of persons from/to the country at international and local airports, territorial boundaries and seaports who are in possession of unissued, tampered or fraudulent travel documents for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;

6) To confiscate, conceal, or destroy the passport, travel documents, or personal documents or belongings of trafficked persons in furtherance of trafficking or to prevent them from leaving the country or seeking redress from the government or appropriate agencies; and,

7) To knowingly benefit from, financial or otherwise, or make use of, the labor or services of a person held to a condition of involuntary servitude, forced labor, or slavery.

8) To tamper with, destroy, or cause the destruction of evidence, or to influence or attempt to influence witnesses, in an investigation or prosecution of a case under this Act;

9) To destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate or possess, or attempt to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate or possess, any actual or purported passport or other travel, immigration or working permit or document, or any other actual or purported government identification, of any person in order to prevent or restrict, or attempt to prevent or restrict, without lawful authority, the person’s liberty to move or travel in order to maintain the labor or services of that person; or,

10) To utilize his or her office to impede the investigation, prosecution or execution of lawful orders in a case under this Act. (Section 5, Ibid.)

d. Qualified trafficking in persons

Violations of Section 4 of this Act shall be considered as qualified trafficking:

1) When the trafficked person is a child;

2) When the adoption is effected through Republic Act No. 8043, otherwise known as the “Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995” and said adoption is for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

3) When the crime is committed by a syndicate, or in large scale. Trafficking is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group;

4) When the offender is a spouse, an ascendant, parent, sibling, guardian or a person who exercises authority over the trafficked person or when the offense is committed by a public officer or employee;

5) When the trafficked person is recruited to engage in prostitution with any member of the military or law enforcement agencies;

6) When the offender is a member of the military or law enforcement agencies;

7) When by reason or on occasion of the act of trafficking in persons, the offended party dies, becomes insane, suffers mutilation or is afflicted with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS);

8) When the offender commits one or more violations of Section 4 over a period of sixty (60) or more days, whether those days are continuous or not; and,

9) When the offender directs or through another manages the trafficking victim in carrying out the exploitative purpose of trafficking. (Section 6, Ibid.)

2. Prosecution

a. Confidentiality

At any stage of the investigation, rescue, prosecution and trial of an offense under this Act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel, social workers and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall protect the right to privacy of the trafficked person. Towards this end, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges to whom the complaint has been referred may, whenever necessary to ensure a fair and impartial proceeding, and after considering all circumstances for the best interest of the parties, order a closed-door investigation, prosecution or trial. The name and personal circumstances of the trafficked person or any other information tending to establish the identity of the trafficked person and his or her family shall not be disclosed to the public.

It shall be unlawful for any editor, publisher, and reporter or columnist in case of printed materials, announcer or producer in case of television and radio, producer and director of a film in case of the movie industry, or any person utilizing tri-media facilities or electronic information technology to cause publicity of the name, personal circumstances, or any information tending to establish the identity of the trafficked person except when the trafficked person in a written statement duly notarized knowingly, voluntarily and willingly waives said confidentiality.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel, social workers and medical practitioners shall be trained on the importance of maintaining confidentiality as a means to protect the right to privacy of victims and to encourage victims to file complaints. (Section 7, Ibid.)

b. Initiation and Prosecution of Cases

1) Initiation of Investigation. – Law enforcement agencies are mandated to immediately initiate investigation and counter-trafficking-intelligence gathering upon receipt of statements or affidavit from victims of trafficking, migrant workers, or their families who are in possession of knowledge or information about trafficking in persons cases.

2) Prosecution of Cases. – Any person who has personal knowledge of the commission of any offense under this Act, such as the trafficked person, the parents, spouse, siblings, children or legal guardian may file a complaint for trafficking.

3) Affidavit of Desistance. – Cases involving trafficking in persons should not be dismissed based on the affidavit of desistance executed by the victims or their parents or legal guardians. Public and private prosecutors are directed to oppose and manifest objections to motions for dismissal.

Any act involving the means provided in this Act or any attempt thereof for the purpose of securing an Affidavit of Desistance from the complainant shall be punishable under this Act. (Section 8, Ibid.)

c. Venue

A criminal action arising from violation of this Act shall be filed where the offense was committed, or where any of its elements occurred, or where the trafficked person actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, That the court where the criminal action is first filed shall acquire jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts. (Section 9, Ibid.)

4. Penalties and Sanctions

The following penalties and sanctions are hereby established for the offenses enumerated in this Act:

1) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00);

2) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4-A of this Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

3) Any person found guilty of Section 4-B of this Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

In every case, conviction shall cause and carry the automatic revocation of the license or registration of the recruitment agency involved in trafficking. The license of a recruitment agency which trafficked a child shall be automatically revoked.

4) Any person found, guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 5 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

5) Any person found guilty of qualified trafficking under Section 6 shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) but not more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00);

6) Any person who violates Section 7 hereof shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

7) If the offender is a corporation, partnership, association, club, establishment or any juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, partner, manager, and/or any responsible officer who participated in the commission of the crime or who shall have knowingly permitted or failed to prevent its commission;

8) The registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and license to operate of the erring agency, corporation, association, religious group, tour or travel agent, club or establishment, or any place of entertainment shall be cancelled and revoked permanently. The owner, president, partner or manager thereof shall not be allowed to operate similar establishments in a different name;

9) If the offender is a foreigner, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving his or her sentence and be barred permanently from entering the country;

10) Any employee or official of government agencies who shall issue or approve the issuance of travel exit clearances, passports, registration certificates, counseling certificates, marriage license, and other similar documents to persons, whether juridical or natural, recruitment agencies, establishments or other individuals or groups, who fail to observe the prescribed procedures and the requirement as provided for by laws, rules and regulations, shall be held administratively liable, without prejudice to criminal liability under this Act. The concerned government official or employee shall, upon conviction, be dismissed from the service and be barred permanently to hold public office. His or her retirement and other benefits shall likewise be forfeited; and,

11) Conviction, by final judgment of the adopter for any offense under this Act shall result in the immediate rescission of the decree of adoption. (Section 10, Ibid.)

a. Use of trafficked persons

Any person who buys or engages the services of a trafficked person for prostitution shall be penalized with the following: Provided, That the Probation Law (Presidential Decree No. 968) shall not apply:

1) Prision Correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor or six (6) years to twelve (12) years imprisonment and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) but not more than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00): Provided, however, That the following acts shall be exempted thereto:

(a) If an offense under paragraph (a) involves sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua or seventeen (17) years to forty (40) years imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

(b) If an offense under paragraph (a) involves carnal knowledge of, or sexual intercourse with, a male or female trafficking victim and also involves the use of force or intimidation, to a victim deprived of reason or to an unconscious victim, or a victim under twelve (12) years of age, instead of the penalty prescribed in the subparagraph above the penalty shall be a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) but not more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) and imprisonment of reclusion perpetua or forty (40) years imprisonment with no possibility of parole; except that if a person violating paragraph (a) of this section knows the person that provided prostitution services is in fact a victim of trafficking, the offender shall not be likewise penalized under this section but under Section 10 as a person violating Section 4; and if in committing such an offense, the offender also knows a qualifying circumstance for trafficking, the offender shall be penalized under Section 10 for qualified trafficking. If in violating this section the offender also violates Section 4, the offender shall be penalized under Section 10 and, if applicable, for qualified trafficking instead of under this section;

2) Deportation. – If a foreigner commits any offense described by paragraph (1) or (2) of this section or violates any pertinent provision of this Act as an accomplice or accessory to, or by attempting any such offense, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving his or her sentence and be barred permanently from entering the country; and

3) Public Official. – If the offender is a public official, he or she shall be dismissed from service and shall suffer perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public, office, in addition to any imprisonment or fine received pursuant to any other provision of this Act. (Section 11, Ibid.)

b. Prescriptive Period

Trafficking cases under this Act shall prescribe in ten (10) years: Provided, however, That trafficking cases committed by a syndicate or in a large scale as defined under Section 6, or against a child, shall prescribe in twenty (20) years.

The prescriptive period shall commence to run from the day on which the trafficked person is delivered or released from the conditions of bondage, or in the case of a child victim, from the day the child reaches the age of majority, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information and shall commence to run again when the proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted or are unjustifiably stopped for any reason not imputable to the accused. (Section 12, Ibid.)

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