The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is the body mandated by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation of Republic Act No. 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, as amended by Republic Act No. 10364, with the Department of Justice as the lead agency.

The Republic Act 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, institutes policies to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children. It establishes the necessary institutional mechanism to protect and support trafficked persons, and provides penalties for its violations.

In 2012, the Republic Act No 9208 was amended through the RA 10364 also known as the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

It 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.

Any person who has any knowledge or learns of facts or circumstances that give rise to a reasonable belief that a person will be, or suspected to be, or is in the process of being trafficked shall immediately report the incident, either orally, in writing or through other means.

A report may be made to the IACAT Anti-Trafficking Task Force or through the IACAT 1343 Action Line.

It may also be reported to barangay authorities, the local social welfare and development office (LSWDO), the nearest police or other law enforcement agencies, the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC), or any member of the Council or local anti-trafficking committee.

The following services are available for trafficked persons to ensure their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into the mainstream of society:

  • Temporary housing and food facilities;
  • Psychological support and counseling;
  • Free legal services;
  • Medical or psychological services;
  • Livelihood and skills training;
  • Educational assistance to a trafficked child; and
  • 24-hour call center crisis calls and technology-based counselling and referral system.

Legal Protection

Trafficked persons are recognized as victims of trafficking and shall not be penalized for crimes directly related to the acts of trafficking or in obedience to the order made by the trafficker. The consent of the victim to the intended exploitation is relevant.

Free Legal Assistance

Trafficked persons shall be provided with free legal services which shall include information about the victim’s rights and the procedure for filing complaints, claiming compensation and such other legal remedies available to them, in a language understood by the trafficked person.

For victims of international trafficking, the DFA shall provide free legal assistance and counsel to pursue legal action against his or her traffickers, represent his or her interests in any criminal investigation or prosecution, and assist in the application for social benefits and/or regular immigration status as may be allowed by the host country.

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

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 persons at any stage of the investigation, rescue, prosecution and 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.

Witness Protection Program

Under Section 18 of RA 10364, trafficked victims are entitled to the Witness Protection and Benefits Program established under RA 6981.

Trafficked persons who will testify or are testifying or about to testify before any judicial or quasi-judicial body, or before any investigating authority, may be admitted to the Program.

It 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.

It 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.

It 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.

It 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.

It 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 the Act.

It 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

It 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 primarily for sexual purposes.