Sen. Loren Legarda
Sen. Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines — In celebration of International Women’s Day, Senator Loren Legarda (Nationalist People’s Coalition) advised Filipino women that there are adequate laws for the protection of their rights and promotion of their well-being.

“We have diligently toiled to enact pieces of legislation to protect the rights of women and promote their welfare. The greater challenge is to effectively implement these laws and educate women on their rights. Women around the country should be aware that they are sufficiently protected under various laws,” Legarda stressed.

The United Nations’ theme for this year’s celebration is, “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.”

Legarda said that through the country’s laws on women’s rights protection—such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act—the Philippines can fulfill this promise.

“We recognize the significant efforts being undertaken by the Philippine government to curb violence against women. Now, we can do even better on this especially with the recent passage of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, which now covers attempted trafficking and accomplice liability,” she stressed.

She said that under the new law, recruitment in the guise of domestic or overseas employment for sexual exploitation, forced labor or involuntary debt bondage are considered human trafficking. Other acts considered as human trafficking are recruitment of any Filipino woman to marry a foreigner, engagement in sex tourism, recruitment for organ removal, and recruitment of a child to engage in armed activities abroad.

Legarda said that even laws on climate change—such as the Climate Change Act and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act—can help protect women, especially since human traffickers have the tendency to look for potential victims among survivors of disasters.

“It is important to realize that the changing climate will have its worst effects on the poorest of the poor. Men, women and children from marginalized and devastated communities are at high risk, and we must do everything in our power to stop these illegal operations, including making our communities disaster-resilient so as not to expose our citizens to abusive groups,” she stressed.

“We must stop the climate of impunity for those who exploit our women. This can only be achieved with intensified enforcement, effective prosecution, and a proper closure to thousands of cases that should not only bring the perpetrators behind bars, but also result to the re-integration of victims back into the mainstream of society to lead normal and secure lives,” she added.

“We must always strive to give equal opportunity to women and address their concerns to allow them to develop their full potential and contribute to nation building,” said Legarda. (PR)