Since 2015, the Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) has been strengthened and restructured to handle the investigation and enforcement of laws against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC). The Center continuously conducts the following: counter-intelligence and surveillance; investigation; operation; policy and strategy formulation; rescue and victim’s assistance; maintain watch list and database; and advocacy and public awareness campaigns. It also serves as a “one-stop shop” for the investigation and treatment of victims of child abuse, VAW, and other similar crimes, through a multidisciplinary approach.
Like any other units of the PNP, the WCPC under the auspices of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) has also encountered challenges brought about by the global pandemic. However, this did not dampen its resolve to protect and rescue women and children from all forms of abuses and exploitation, and prosecute offenders while ensuring the strict observance of standard health protocol and the safety of the rescued victims and arrested suspect as well as the men and women of the WCPC.
From July 1 to 31, 2022, the WCPC investigated a total of 37 VAWC complaints and conducted 5 anti-TIP operations resulting in the rescue of a total of 18 victims (11-female minors, 2 female adults, 5-male minors, and 0-male adult). 2 suspected traffickers were arrested in different operations while 1 is still at-large. Of these 5 anti-TIP operations, 3 cases have been referred to the Office of the Prosecutor while 2 cases are still under investigation.
Strong partnership with international and local NGOs and Police to Police cooperation with Foreign Law Enforcement Agency counterparts have always been the backbone of this Center to sustain its efforts against TIP. Police to Police cooperation with Foreign Law Enforcement Agencies such as: Australian Federal Police, UK-National Crime Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigation, Dutch Police, Royal Malaysia Police, Nordic Police, and Dutch Police are continuously undertaken in its shared mission to fight TIP most especially online sexual exploitation of children. A weekly meeting has been regularly conducted with our foreign counterpart through the Operations Coordinating Group (OCG) of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) while the Donor Board of Management (DBoM) convenes once a month to discuss PICACC activities and ways forward.
Taking cue from the successful Transnational Investigative Cooperation (TIC) with the Anti-TIP and Smuggling of Migrants Division (ATIPSOM) D3 of the Royal Malaysia Police, the Center through the TIC Program of ASEAN-ACT started its initial coordination with the Royal Thai Police. A virtual introductory meeting between the WCPC and the Royal Thai Police has been conducted on July 25, 2022 to discuss possible bilateral cooperation between the two law enforcement agencies focusing on trafficking in persons/smuggling of migrants.
The WCPC as Head Specialist Anti-TIP Unit (HSU) under the ASEAN SOMTC Working Group on TIP, participated in various ASEAN related activities as part of its commitment to fight TIP in the ASEAN region:
- ASEAN Regional Campaign on Ending Gender-Based Workplace
Exploitation via online platform held on July 4-5, 2022,
- 22nd ASEAN SOMTC and its Related Meetings held on July 19-21, 2022 via hybrid format. The Center regularly participates
- 9th Session on the Working Group (WG) on Smuggling of Migrants via online platform held on July 27-28, 2022
The WCPC likewise actively represented the PNP in the various meetings, projects, programs and activities of different inter-agency councils: Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Children (IACVAWC), Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography
(IACACP), Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC), Council for the Welfare of Children Council (CWC), National Council Against Child Labor (NCACL), and the AntiMoney Laundering Council (AMLC).
On capacity building, the Center has received invitations to send its investigators to undergo training and attend different international fora in order to enhance their skills and broaden their knowledge on the latest crime trends especially on VAWC/Gender Based Violence and Trafficking in Persons:
- Webinar: Evidence Presentation hosted by ASEAN-ACT on July 7, 2022;
- Orientation on the JJWC’s Integrated Care Management Protocol (ICMP) on July 20, 2022;
- Lecture on “Citizen-Oriented Police Approach in Crime Solution: Experiences of the Bavarian State Police” with guest lecturer Mr. Bernhard Egger, Director, Bavarian State Criminal Police Office
- International Cyber Crime Investigations Workshop held at Semarang, Indonesia on July 18-29, 2022;
Advocacy, information drive and awareness campaign to end all forms of abuse and exploitation against women and children is also the centerpiece of our intervention program on anti-violence against women and children. The WCPC actively pursued its advocacy, information drive and awareness campaign to end all forms of abuse and exploitation against women and children through media interviews/guesting and as resource person on lectures/webinars both local and international for a.
The WCPC FB page and website also strengthened and operationalized to serve as 24/7 Aleng Pulis helpline and awareness campaign platform. The FB page now has 53,300 followers and still growing. The WCPC Social Media Team composed of the Sub-group advocacy and Sub-group Helpline has been established and operationalized to handle the awareness campaign and complaints/reports sent thru Aleng Pulis FB page. Aleng Pulis has posted more than 4,000 media cards and videos relating to VAWC and TIP. As of this date, the helpline has received more than 2,000 messages either reporting incidents of abuse or complaints relating to VAWC and TIP.
The WCPC with the support of friends and partners also conducted various gift-to increase public awareness and rescue and protect women and children from the clutches of abusers and traffickers with the active support of our partners in the community.