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The House committees on basic education and culture and on higher and technical education jointly approved House Bill 4890 seeking to establish a Human Trafficking Prevention Education Program for the youth.

The bill aims to enhance the knowledge of the youth of their basic rights and promote their vigilance against human trafficking by providing preventive education to teach them about the dangers of human trafficking in its various forms.

The committee on basic education and culture chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano VI and committee on higher and technical education chaired by Rep. Ann Hofer approved the proposed “Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act,” authored by AKO Bicol Reps. Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin Jr. and Christopher Co.

It declares it is the policy of the State to protect the youth from human trafficking and other crimes fundamentally detrimental to their development and well-being.

The Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program shall educate the youth about their fundamental rights, orient the youth about the dangers of international and domestic human trafficking, identify members of the youth who have been or are currently victims of human trafficking, and provide the youth with information services.

According to the authors, children are some of the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking. In the Philippines, there are 2.2 million child laborers between the ages 15 and 17, many of whom are engaged in hazardous unskilled working environments. Some children work in virtual slavery in the informal employment sector as domestic helpers. Others are exploited for prostitution and pornography, while children in war-torn areas are easy targets for forced conscription into the armed movements, according to the lawmakers.

The bill seeks to mandate the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking to facilitate the establishment of a Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program which shall educate the youth about their fundamental rights concerning labor and employment, liberty, human security, and other essential rights; orient the youth about the dangers of international and domestic human trafficking in their various forms such as illegal recruitment, unfair labor practices, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation and prostitution, and child labor; identify members of the youth who have been or are currently victims of human trafficking and refer them to the proper agency or organization for protection and rehabilitation; and provide the youth with information services offered by government agencies and non-government organizations to aid and protect victims of human trafficking.

The Council, in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) shall implement the school-based Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program.

The program shall cover all students enrolled in junior high schools, senior high schools, colleges and universities, and technical or vocational education programs.

The school principal or university president, or technical school head shall facilitate the effective implementation of the program in his or her educational institution.They shall also assign guidance counselors, social workers, or equivalent staff to identify and protect human trafficking victims and at-risk out-of-school youth.

The school officials shall also put up a safe and proactive human trafficking reporting mechanism which allows barangay residents to report suspected cases of human trafficking within the community.

Likewise, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, in cooperation with the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), shall implement a community-based anti-human trafficking program which shall cover OSYs which shall be implemented in the barangay level. The chairmen of the various Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPC) of the CWC shall implement the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program in their respective barangays.

The Council shall also implement the program in conflict-afflicted areas in the country. It shall also involve NGOs, community stakeholders and other civil society actors with knowledge and experience on human trafficking prevention and suppression in the implementation and monitoring of the program.

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