Courts, prosecutors unprepared for human trafficking cases

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 June) — Judges and prosecutors are ill-prepared to handle cases of human trafficking, participants to a seminar on how to combat the crime said.

Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 207 Judge Philip Aguinaldo admitted there is difficulty in interpreting a human trafficking case, citing no such case has reached the Supreme Court which may be used as basis [in making decisions].

Aguinaldo was one of the speakers in the two-day seminar on human trafficking for judges and prosecutors from Regions 9 and 12 that started Tuesday, at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here.

He said that with the seeming overlapping of laws the seminar would help guide the participants in handling human trafficking cases.

“Kapag hindi ma-improve ang performance natin, the United States will cut off financial supports and other aids to us,” he said.

Senior State Prosecuotr Lilian Doris Alejo said a key element of human trafficking is exploitation.

She said the present number of prosecutors is not enough and that they could not possibly focus on human trafficking cases.

There are currently 17 government prosecutors at the Department of Justice and 72 other prosecutors in regional DOJ offices handling anti-trafficking cases.

Aguinaldo said the Philippines tops other Asian countries in terms of the number of human trafficking victims and has been placed on the Tier 2 watchlist of the US. (MindaNews)