Anti-trafficking advocates rally support of media
Confidentiality clause emphasized
by Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (13 October) -- Anti-trafficking advocates have rallied the support of the local media and government information officers in the campaign to stamp out trafficking of persons, particularly women and children, in the province.
The Provincial Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (PIACAT) on October 9 gathered local reporters and members of the Association of Negros Oriental Public Information Officers (ANOPIO) for a half-day seminar on RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
During the seminar, the committee led by Provincial Administrator Marilou Kho appealed to the media to strictly adhere to the confidentiality clause of RA 9208 in their coverage of human trafficking cases.
The confidentially clause of RA 9208 guarantees equal rights to privacy of both the victim and accused and prohibits law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, court personnel, judges and medical practitioners, as well as other parties from public disclosures of names, addresses and other personal details of both the victim and the accused.
Section 7 of RA 9208 specifically provides for the recognition of the "right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused," and forbids the media "to cause publicity of any case of trafficking in persons" when the "prosecution or trial is conducted behind close-doors."
According to Capitol Information Officer Adrian Sedillo, the seminar was conducted after PIACAT members raised concern over a local news report on a cybersex den raid published the names as well as photos of the victims.
Although the confidentiality clause seeks to protect the rights of the victims, it has also worked counter to the campaign against human trafficking.
Dondee Senires of PIACAT said that Negros Oriental has fared better compared to other provinces when it comes to anti-trafficking efforts "but not much is reported in the media due to the provisions of the law."
The province has been identified as a destination, transit and source point for victims of human trafficking.
Eight hotspot areas have been identified here, namely: Ayungon, Bais City, Basay, Bayawan City, Bindoy, Mabinay, Sta. Catalina, and Siaton. (PIA/RMN) [top]