SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
There are about 500,000 sex workers in the Philippine, many of whom were lured and exploited by crime syndicates, according to the Philippine Commission on Women.
This prompted the lawmakers to file several measures decriminalizing prostitution and upholding the rights of victims being exploited by crime syndicates.
Rep. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), principal author of House Bill 1706, said decriminalizing prostitution could be a new approach in addressing the problem.
"We should not view the prostitutes as the source of the problem of prostitution. We should instead run after those who lured them into this kind of business," Yap said.
Yap said the Revised Penal Code, which punishes women who engage in sexual intercourse for money, fails to recognize compelling reasons such as poverty and human trafficking.
Citing a report of the Philippine Commission on Women, Yap said of the estimated 500,000 sex workers in the country, 100,000 of whom are children.
Yap said the existing law also fails to address the criminal liability of exploiters such as recruiters, pimps, bar or brothel owners and customers who cause the prostitution.
"The measure seeks to help prostitutes by entitling them to government services like medical services, counseling, shelter and legal protection services," Yap said.
Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), also filed of House Bill 1656, which also seeks to decriminalize prostitution and provide victims with adequate protection.
The bill seeks to create the National Anti-Prostitution Council that will develop a program addressing prostitution and needs of persons exploited in prostitution and those vulnerable.
The measure likewise requires local government units to use their powers to curb prostitution within their jurisdictions.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development represented by. Maricris Calipjo expressed support for the measure "to remove the stigma on prostitutes and favor the giving of options that will promote the victims' economic well being."