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Japson proposes measure to combat human trafficking

By: Julit C. Jainar February 17,2016 - 10:22 PM

A city legislator is proposing an ordinance requiring establishments engaged in the hotel industry to put up a poster or notice against human trafficking.

Councilor Lea Japson presented her proposed measure during yesterday’s regular session.

If approved, all hotels, motels and lodging houses will be required to put up a poster that says “Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking. We will report any suspicious activity and cooperate with the law enforcement in the investigation of cases.”

The poster must measure 11” x 17” with font size not less than 48 and should be placed at the entrance door of an establishment.

The ordinance is supported by the Women and Children’s Protection Desk and Family Juvenile and Gender Sensitivity Section of the Cebu City Police Office.

The office’s position paper stated that it has been observed and often reported that most cases of exploitation brought by human trafficking found hotel establishments as havens of the commission of the offense.

Japson said they find the need to ask support from the private sector to combat human trafficking and that information dissemination is an important avenue to educate the public that the city will not tolerate human trafficking.

But the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) finds the proposed ordinance discriminatory, unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The position paper signed by the HRRAC President Julie Marie Najar, states that “though the intention of the proposed ordinance is good and lawful, the means of implementing it is not.”

“This will send a wrong signal to tourists. HRRAC has been working so hard to make Cebu the preferred tourist destination and it’s apparent that tourism is one of the primary drivers of Cebu’s economy. This kind of ordinance will drive tourists away, not because they are into human trafficking but because this tends to give the wrong signal that human trafficking is so rampant in Cebu,” the position paper states.

HRRAC is a nonprofit, nongovernment organization of the hospitality industry that has bonded to promote professionalism in the hotel industry.

In the proposed ordinance, establishments that will not comply will be penalized. For the first offense, the establishment shall be reminded in writing that they should put up the poster.

For the succeeding violations, the establishment shall be assessed a penalty of P5,000 per visit.

For every infraction, a formal notice shall be sent and the establishment shall be given only five days to comply.

Failure to heed or comply after the third visit will result in a continued assessment of penalties and/or a recommendation to the Office of the Mayor for appropriate action.

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