Section 4

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Abuse of vulnerability Coercive, unfair or deceptive recruitment Corporate criminal liability Criminal liability Debt bondage Forced labour Human trafficking Slavery

Section 4 criminalises a number of ‘acts of trafficking in persons’, further specifying and clarifying the criminal definition of trafficking in human beings. Under Section 4(a), the acts of recruitment, transportation, harbouring, transfer or receipt of persons, by any means, including under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage; constitute a criminal offence of human trafficking. Similarly, under Section 4(b), introducing or matching (the role of agents or intermediaries) any person, for profit, (or 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; is also criminalised. Finally, adopting or facilitating the adoption of a person for the same purposes (4(f)) is also specified as a criminal act of human trafficking under this Act.

Notes

This section specifies that these offences may be committed by an individual or by a legal person. Liability for criminal attempt, as well as accomplice and accessory liability are also provided by sections 4(a), 4(b) and 4(c) respectively.

The interpretation of the ‘exploitative purposes’ under this Section is limited to a number of purposes, namely prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage. The inclusion of debt bondage, in particular, as a form of exploitation is important in the context of migration for employment.

The penalties for this offence for individuals are detailed under Section 10(a) of the Act: 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of between P1m and P2m.

If the crime is committed by a corporation, the provisions under 10(e) and 10(f) will apply: Section 10(e) provides that the penalties for corporations, partnerships, associations, clubs, establishments or any other juridical persons 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; and Section 10(f): 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.

According to the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Reports, there have only been 8 successful convictions for human trafficking for labour exploitation since the first conviction in 2010, until March 2015. This compares to a total of 105 convictions for sex trafficking during the same period. Regarding the disproportionately low overall number of prosecutions for human trafficking given the magnitude of the issue in the Philippines, the Trafficking in Persons Report of 2013 points to weaknesses in the judicial system of the Philippines, including the excessive length of trials and lack of public prosecutors dedicated to trafficking cases, as well as widespread corruption at all levels of Government, which hampers efforts to hold offenders accountable.

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Section 4. Acts of Trafficking in Persons. 

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

(a) To recruit, transport, transfer; harbor, provide, 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, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;

(b) 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;

(c) 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;

(d) 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;

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

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

(g) To recruit, hire, adopt, transport 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; and

(h) To recruit, transport or adopt a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad.

Law / Philippines / Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (as amended by RA 10364)

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 provides the legal framework for the criminalization of human trafficking in the Philippines. The Anti-Trafficking Act provides the definition of human trafficking, and specifies and criminalizes a number of ‘acts of trafficking in persons’, as well as acts that ‘promote trafficking in persons’. The Act specifically prohibits human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, slavery, debt bondage and involutary servitude, and determines severe penalties, with sentences of up to life imprisonment and a five million pesos fine for those convicted of trafficking. The Act further provides that in cases where the offender is a corporation, partnership, association or any other form of juridical person, the penalty will be imposed upon the owner, president, manager, or any responsible person who participated in the commission of the crime, or who knowingly permitted, or failed to prevent its commission. This Act was amended by RA 10364 “An Act Expanding Republic Act No. 9208”.