PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) to strengthen and harmonize efforts to address human trafficking concerns in the country.

In a briefing at the Malacañang with Iacat and PAOCC, Marcos said human trafficking activities could compromise the country’s economy and national security.

He directed the two organizations to harmonize the efforts of the government and private sectors to “thwart the business of human trafficking in its multifarious operations on the ground and now becoming more and more important online.”

Marcos also tasked the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) in educating the public about the danger posed by human trafficking as he noted that a good communication campaign is a vital element in preventing such illegal activities.

“So heightened public awareness is key. That’s what we spoke about a little bit earlier. The Presidential Communications Office must assist Iacat in its communication campaign against trafficking in persons in order to amplify the effort,” said Marcos.

The President expressed concern especially on the welfare of children and women who are the most vulnerable to human trafficking.

“We are honoring women this month. So let us make sure that we take this time to look after their collective rights and interests in the enforcement and in the measures to remedy all that we implement,” Marcos said as the world celebrates International Women’s Day this March.

“I think the room for improvement here is that we can work together more and coordinate together more and where — that puts meat on the bones of what we have come to call the whole-of-government approach and bring everything to bear to the problems that we are facing,” he added.

The Philippine government earlier repatriated several Filipino workers who were victims of human trafficking particularly from Myanmar.

Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier presented human trafficking victims who were offered a job in a telemarketing company in Thailand but ended up as crypto-currency scammers in Myanmar.

The Trafficking in Persons Office within the US Department of State conducts a yearly assessment to monitor all countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking and provide each country with a grade according to a three-tier scale.

The Philippines is currently under Tier 1 status, which means the country is fully compliant with the minimum standards. (SunStar Philippines)