July 13, 2024

The Sangguniang Panlungsod approved on first reading an ordinance calling for the creation of an anti-human trafficking task force in Baguio.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring of receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability or of 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.”

The proposed ordinance stated the anti-human trafficking task force shall be composed of the Baguio Character Council; the Baguio Human Resource Management Office; members of the Baguio City Council; and representatives from volunteer organizations focused on women, volunteer organizations focused on children, Baguio Benguet Ecumenical Group or any faith-based organization, the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Baguio, the Medical Association of the Philippines, the business sector, and other concerned offices/departments of the City Government of Baguio.

Under the proposal, the task force shall execute programs, such as lectures, seminars, and social media campaigns aimed at deterring human trafficking.

The task force shall also coordinate with each other and with other offices/agencies to provide programs, legal assistance, and other services which may help victims cope with the ill effects of human trafficking.

Furthermore, the task force shall be responsible in conducting research on the occurrence of human trafficking in the city and shall cause the closure of businesses practicing human trafficking.

The task force shall have a term not exceeding three years. However, the network may continue working until the city mayor reconstitutes its membership.

A one-year and a three-year work plan shall be presented to the city as integrated in the general work plan of the Baguio Character City Program.

Once enacted, information regarding the legislative measure shall be disseminated to the widest extent possible especially to the business sector. This shall serve as the initial action against human trafficking.

The proposed ordinance also stipulates that the city government shall allocate P100,000 the purpose. However, the task force shall raise funds in the succeeding years to sustain its programs and activities.

The proposed ordinance authored by councilors Philian Louise Weygan-Allan and Isabelo Cosalan was referred to Committee on Ethics, Governmental Affairs, and Personnel of the Sangguninag Panlungsod for review. – Jordan G. Habbiling