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Tingog party-list wants tougher penalties against child smuggling

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Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez on Sunday commended Immigration personnel who foiled an attempt by an American woman to smuggle out of the country a six-day old boy hidden in her sling bag at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last Wednesday.

Romualdez, chair of the House committee on the welfare of children, also called on her fellow legislators to support initiatives that will impose stiffer penalties on human trafficking, particularly child smuggling.

“Let me commend our airport authorities, especially the alert Immigration officers, for a job well-done. Their dedication to duty paid off and led to the arrest of a foreigner engaged in child smuggling,” Romualdez said.

“I cannot understand how a woman, a mother of five, could stuff a week-old child in a hand-carried luggage. Such cruelty is beyond comprehension,” the lady solon added.

Romualdez said she would discuss with her committee members the possibility of amending existing laws on human trafficking with the end in view of increasing the penalty further for child smuggling.

“I am in favor of imposing stiffer penalties against child smuggling. I am optimistic that my colleagues in Congress will extend their full support to such initiative,” she added.

Republic Act (RA) No. 10364, which expanded the law on human trafficking, imposes the penalty of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of not less than P500,000 but not more than P1 million to those found guilty of attempted trafficking in persons.

Section 4-A of the law state that: “In cases where the victim is a child, any of the following acts shall also be deemed as attempted trafficking in persons:

• Facilitating the travel of a child who travels alone to a foreign country or territory without valid reason therefor and without the required clearance or permit from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, or a written permit or justification from the child’s parent or legal guardian;

• Executing, for a consideration, an affidavit of consent or a written consent for adoption;

• Recruiting a woman to bear a child for the purpose of selling the child;

• Simulating a birth for the purpose of selling the child; and

• Soliciting a child and acquiring the custody thereof through any means from among hospitals, clinics, nurseries, daycare centers, refugee or evacuation centers, and low-income families, for the purpose of selling the child.

Romualdez said she would also support moves to impose stiffer penalties against accomplices and other individuals who participate in the commission of the crime of child smuggling.

“A child is a blessing that needs to be protected and nurtured. Anyone who endangers the safety of the child deserves to be locked up behind bars,” she said.

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