The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), proudly inaugurated the Tahanan ng Inyong Pag-Asa or T.I.P. Center, which is a project spearheaded by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, and IACAT Executive Director Jinky Dedumo led the formal turnover of the T.I.P. Center.
The TIP center is the first IACAT shelter and one-stop-shop that caters to victims of trafficking in persons (TIP). According to IACAT Undersecretary-in-Charge Aglipay-Villar, the T.I.P. center will serve as a temporary shelter for rescued trafficked victims while they wait for the arrival of their documents, trial date, or their transport back to their home, among others. It also serves as a one-stop-shop where complaints on trafficking in persons may be reported, where victims can avail of counseling services and where all their other concerns may be addressed - without having to go to the different agencies.
Usec. Aglipay-Villar also said that, “with this IACAT TIP Center, the Philippine government is giving priority to providing better care to trafficking victims for their proper rehabilitation, which is an area that has been cited in the US Department of State Global Trafficking in Persons Report as something that the Philippine government needs to work on.” She further stressed that “to truly eliminate trafficking in persons we must bring to the fore the needs and the rights of the victims.”
Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra said that, “Since the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9208, the victims of trafficking in persons have been brought to the DSWD shelters for protection and psycho-social counseling. However, these shelters cater to various victims of heinous crimes, such as rape and violence against women and children, whose psycho-social needs differ from each other, and they are becoming too crowded such that they are not enough to accommodate all the victims. Thus, the need for an exclusive shelter that would cater to the specific psycho-social needs of trafficked victims, was envisioned.”
Based on the 2020 Trafficking in Persons report, the Philippine law enforcement and authorities investigated 237 alleged cases of illegal recruitment this year. These actions led to the identification of 546 suspects and arrests of 507. Most of the convicted traffickers subjected minors to sex trafficking, including 32 who sexually exploited children online. Because the Philippine government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts in combating trafficking, the Philippines retained its Tier 1, which is issued by the U.S. government.
The Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development had a Memorandum of Agreement for the construction of a two-storey building that will serve as the IACAT TIP Center (Tahanan ng Inyong Pag-Asa). The TIP center covers a lot area consisting of Five Hundred Seventy-Six and Eighty-Three Square Meters (576.83. sq.m.) more or less that can accommodate 24 women, 6 men, 14 girls, and 10 boys and is located at the Sanctuary Center, Welfareville, Mandaluyong City.
The IACAT TIP Center shall be managed by the DSWD according to Republic Act No. 10364, Sec. 16, which mandates the DSWD to, among others: (i) implement rehabilitative and protective programs for trafficked persons, (ii) provide counseling and temporary shelter to trafficked persons. It shall establish temporary shelters for the protection and housing for trafficked persons to provide the following basic services: (1) Temporary housing and food facilities; (2) Psychological support and counseling; (3) 24-hour call center for crisis calls and technology-based counseling and referral system; (4) Coordination with local law enforcement entities; and (5) Coordination with the Department of Justice, among others
The IACAT plans to have a second phase of the project which will provide a livelihood training center for the proper reintegration of human trafficking victims.
This project is in line with IACAT’s mission to ensure that agencies, in a timely and coordinated manner, immediately and effectively respond to cases of trafficking in persons, assist in the filing of cases against individuals, agencies, institutions, or establishments that violate the provisions of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and protect the rights and needs of the trafficked persons.