Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Second Regular Session
Begun held in Metro Manila on Monday, the Twenty-Second day of July, Two Thousand Two
Republic Act No. 9208 May 26, 2003
AN ACT TO INSTITUTE POLICIES TO ELIMINATE TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN, ESTABLISHING THE NECESSARY INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS FOR THE PROTECTION AND SUPPORT OF TRAFFICKED PERSONS, PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR ITS VIOLATIONS, AND FOR OTHER
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
Section 1. Title. This Act shall be known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”.
Section 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is hereby declared that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees the respect of individual rights. In pursuit of this policy, the State shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures and development of programs that will promote human dignity, protect the people from any threat of violence and exploitation, eliminate trafficking in persons, and mitigate pressures for involuntary migration and servitude of persons, not only to support trafficked persons but more importantly, to ensure their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into the mainstream of society.
It shall be a State policy to recognize the equal rights and inherent human dignity of women and men as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families. United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime Including its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and all other relevant and universally accepted human rights instruments and other international conventions to which the Philippines is a signatory.
Section 3. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act:
(a) Trafficking in Persons – refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs.
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall also be considered as “trafficking in persons” even if it does not involve any of the means set forth in the preceding paragraph.
(b) Child – refers to a person below eighteen (18) years of age or one who is over eighteen (18) but is unable to fully take care of or protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.
(c) Prostitution – refers to any act, transaction, scheme or design involving the use of a person by another, for sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration.
(d) Forced Labor and Slavery – refer to the extraction of work or services from any person by means of enticement, violence, intimidation or threat, use of force or coercion, including deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority or moral ascendancy, debt-bondage or deception.
(e) Sex Tourism – refers to a program organized by travel and tourism-related establishments and individuals which consists of tourism packages or activities, utilizing and offering escort and sexual services as enticement for tourists. This includes sexual services and practices offered during rest and recreation periods for members of the military.
(f) Sexual Exploitation – refers to participation by a person in prostitution or the production of pornographic materials as a result of being subjected to a threat, deception, coercion, abduction, force, abuse of authority, debt bondage, fraud or through abuse of a victim’s vulnerability.
(g) Debt Bondage – refers to the pledging by the debtor of his/her personal services or labor or those of a person under his/her control as security or payment for a debt, when the length and nature of services is not clearly defined or when the value of the services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt.
(h) Pornography – refers to any representation, through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent shows, information technology, or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purposes.
(i) Council – shall mean the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking created under Section 20 of this Act.
Section 4. Acts of Trafficking in Persons. – It shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to commit any of the following acts:
(a) To recruit, transport, transfer; harbor, provide, or receive a person by any means, including those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;
(b) To introduce or match for money, profit, or material, economic or other consideration, any person or, as provided for under Republic Act No. 6955, any Filipino woman to a foreign national, for marriage for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling or trading him/her to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;
(c) To offer or contract marriage, real or simulated, for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling, or trading them to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor or slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;
(d) To undertake or organize tours and travel plans consisting of tourism packages or activities for the purpose of utilizing and offering persons for prostitution, pornography or sexual exploitation;
(e) To maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography;
(f) To adopt or facilitate the adoption of persons for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;
(g) To recruit, hire, adopt, transport or abduct a person, by means of threat or use of force, fraud, deceit, violence, coercion, or intimidation for the purpose of removal or sale of organs of said person; and
(h) To recruit, transport or adopt a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad.
Section 5. Acts that Promote Trafficking in Persons. – The following acts which promote or facilitate trafficking in persons, shall be unlawful:
(a) To knowingly lease or sublease, use or allow to be used any house, building or establishment for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;
(b) To produce, print and issue or distribute unissued, tampered or fake counseling certificates, registration stickers and certificates of any government agency which issues these certificates and stickers as proof of compliance with government regulatory and pre-departure requirements for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;
(c) To advertise, publish, print, broadcast or distribute, or cause the advertisement, publication, printing, broadcasting or distribution by any means, including the use of information technology and the internet, of any brochure, flyer, or any propaganda material that promotes trafficking in persons;
(d) To assist in the conduct of misrepresentation or fraud for purposes of facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary exit documents from government agencies that are mandated to provide pre-departure registration and services for departing persons for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;
(e) To facilitate, assist or help in the exit and entry of persons from/to the country at international and local airports, territorial boundaries and seaports who are in possession of unissued, tampered or fraudulent travel documents for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons;
(f) To confiscate, conceal, or destroy the passport, travel documents, or personal documents or belongings of trafficked persons in furtherance of trafficking or to prevent them from leaving the country or seeking redress from the government or appropriate agencies; and
(g) To knowingly benefit from, financial or otherwise, or make use of, the labor or services of a person held to a condition of involuntary servitude, forced labor, or slavery.
Section 6. Qualified Trafficking in Persons. – The following are considered as qualified trafficking:
(a) When the trafficked person is a child;
(b) When the adoption is effected through Republic Act No. 8043, otherwise known as the “Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995” and said adoption is for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage;
(c) When the crime is committed by a syndicate, or in large scale. Trafficking is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group;
(d) When the offender is an ascendant, parent, sibling, guardian or a person who exercises authority over the trafficked person or when the offense is committed by a public officer or employee;
(e) When the trafficked person is recruited to engage in prostitution with any member of the military or law enforcement agencies;
(f) When the offender is a member of the military or law enforcement agencies; and
(g) When by reason or on occasion of the act of trafficking in persons, the offended party dies, becomes insane, suffers mutilation or is afflicted with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Section 6. Confidentiality. – At any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under this Act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused. Towards this end, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges to whom the complaint has been referred may, whenever necessary to ensure a fair and impartial proceeding, and after considering all circumstances for the best interest of the parties, order a closed-door investigation, prosecution or trial. The name and personal circumstances of the trafficked person or of the accused, or any other information tending to establish their identities and such circumstances or information shall not be disclosed to the public.
In cases when prosecution or trial is conducted behind closed-doors, it shall be unlawful for any editor, publisher, and reporter or columnist in case of printed materials, announcer or producer in case of television and radio, producer and director of a film in case of the movie industry, or any person utilizing tri-media facilities or information technology to cause publicity of any case of trafficking in persons.
Section 8. Prosecution of Cases. – Any person who has personal knowledge of the commission of any offense under this Act, the trafficked person, the parents, spouse, siblings, children or legal guardian may file a complaint for trafficking.
Section 9. Venue. – A criminal action arising from violation of this Act shall be filed where the offense was committed, or where any of its elements occurred, or where the trafficked person actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, That the court where the criminal action is first filed shall acquire jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts.
Section 10. Penalties and Sanctions. – The following penalties and sanctions are hereby established for the offenses enumerated in this Act:
(a) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00);
(b) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 5 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);
(c) Any person found guilty of qualified trafficking under Section 6 shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) but not more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00);
(d) Any person who violates Section 7 hereof shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);
(e) If the offender is a corporation, partnership, association, club, establishment or any juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, partner, manager, and/or any responsible officer who participated in the commission of the crime or who shall have knowingly permitted or failed to prevent its commission;
(f) The registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and license to operate of the erring agency, corporation, association, religious group, tour or travel agent, club or establishment, or any place of entertainment shall be cancelled and revoked permanently. The owner, president, partner or manager thereof shall not be allowed to operate similar establishments in a different name;
(g) If the offender is a foreigner, he shall be immediately deported after serving his sentence and be barred permanently from entering the country;
(h) Any employee or official of government agencies who shall issue or approve the issuance of travel exit clearances, passports, registration certificates, counseling certificates, marriage license, and other similar documents to persons, whether juridical or natural, recruitment agencies, establishments or other individuals or groups, who fail to observe the prescribed procedures and the requirement as provided for by laws, rules and regulations, shall be held administratively liable, without prejudice to criminal liability under this Act. The concerned government official or employee shall, upon conviction, be dismissed from the service and be barred permanently to hold public office. His/her retirement and other benefits shall likewise be forfeited; and
(i) Conviction by final judgment of the adopter for any offense under this Act shall result in the immediate rescission of the decree of adoption.
Section 11. Use of Trafficked Persons. – Any person who buys or engages the services of trafficked persons for prostitution shall be penalized as follows:
(a) First offense – six (6) months of community service as may be determined by the court and a fine of Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00); and
(b) Second and subsequent offenses – imprisonment of one (1) year and a fine of One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00).
Section 12. Prescriptive Period. – Trafficking cases under this Act shall prescribe in ten (10) years: Provided, however, That trafficking cases committed by a syndicate or in a large scale as defined under Section 6 shall prescribe in twenty (20) years.
The prescriptive period shall commence to run from the day on which the trafficked person is delivered or released from the conditions of bondage and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information and shall commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted or are unjustifiably stopped for any reason not imputable to the accused.
Section 13. Exemption from Filing Fees. – When the trafficked person institutes a separate civil action for the recovery of civil damages, he/she shall be exempt from the payment of filing fees.
Section 14. Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds and Instruments Derived from Trafficking in Persons. – In addition to the penalty imposed for the violation of this Act, the court shall order the confiscation and forfeiture, in favor of the government, of all the proceeds and properties derived from the commission of the crime, unless they are the property of a third person not liable for the unlawful act; Provided, however, That all awards for damages shall be taken from the personal and separate properties of the offender; Provided, further, That if such properties are insufficient, the balance shall be taken from the confiscated and forfeited properties.
When the proceeds, properties and instruments of the offense have been destroyed, diminished in value or otherwise rendered worthless by any act or omission, directly or indirectly, of the offender, or it has been concealed, removed, converted or transferred to prevent the same from being found or to avoid forfeiture or confiscation, the offender shall be ordered to pay the amount equal to the value of the proceeds, property or instruments of the offense.
Section 15. Trust Fund. – All fines imposed under this Act and the proceeds and properties forfeited and confiscated pursuant to Section 14 hereof shall accrue to a Trust Fund to be administered and managed by the Council to be used exclusively for programs that will prevent acts of trafficking and protect, rehabilitate, reintegrate trafficked persons into the mainstream of society. Such programs shall include, but not limited to, the following:
(a) Provision for mandatory services set forth in Section 23 of this Act;
(b) Sponsorship of a national research program on trafficking and establishment of a data collection system for monitoring and evaluation purposes;
(c) Provision of necessary technical and material support services to appropriate government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs);
(d) Sponsorship of conferences and seminars to provide venue for consensus building amongst the public, the academe, government, NGOs and international organizations; and
(e) Promotion of information and education campaign on trafficking.
Section 16. Programs that Address Trafficking in Persons. – The government shall establish and implement preventive, protective and rehabilitative programs for trafficked persons. For this purpose, the following agencies are hereby mandated to implement the following programs;
(a) Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – shall make available its resources and facilities overseas for trafficked persons regardless of their manner of entry to the receiving country, and explore means to further enhance its assistance in eliminating trafficking activities through closer networking with government agencies in the country and overseas, particularly in the formulation of policies and implementation of relevant programs.
The DFA shall take necessary measures for the efficient implementation of the Machine Readable Passports to protect the integrity of Philippine passports, visas and other travel documents to reduce the incidence of trafficking through the use of fraudulent identification documents.
It shall establish and implement a pre-marriage, on-site and pre-departure counseling program on intermarriages.
(b) Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – shall implement rehabilitative and protective programs for trafficked persons. It shall provide counseling and temporary shelter to trafficked persons and develop a system for accreditation among NGOs for purposes of establishing centers and programs for intervention in various levels of the community.
(c) Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – shall ensure the strict implementation and compliance with the rules and guidelines relative to the employment of persons locally and overseas. It shall likewise monitor, document and report cases of trafficking in persons involving employers and labor recruiters.
(d) Department of Justice (DOJ) – shall ensure the prosecution of persons accused of trafficking and designate and train special prosecutors who shall handle and prosecute cases of trafficking. It shall also establish a mechanism for free legal assistance for trafficked persons, in coordination with the DSWD, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and other NGOs and volunteer groups.
(e) National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) – shall actively participate and coordinate in the formulation and monitoring of policies addressing the issue of trafficking in persons in coordination with relevant government agencies. It shall likewise advocate for the inclusion of the issue of trafficking in persons in both its local and international advocacy for women’s issues.
(f) Bureau of Immigration (BI) – shall strictly administer and enforce immigration and alien administration laws. It shall adopt measures for the apprehension of suspected traffickers both at the place of arrival and departure and shall ensure compliance by the Filipino fiancés/fiancées and spouses of foreign nationals with the guidance and counseling requirement as provided for in this Act.
(g) Philippine National Police (PNP) – shall be the primary law enforcement agency to undertake surveillance, investigation and arrest of individuals or persons suspected to be engaged in trafficking. It shall closely coordinate with various law enforcement agencies to secure concerted efforts for effective investigation and apprehension of suspected traffickers. It shall also establish a system to receive complaints and calls to assist trafficked persons and conduct rescue operations.
(h) Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) – shall implement an effective pre-employment orientation seminars and pre-departure counseling programs to applicants for overseas employment. It shall likewise formulate a system of providing free legal assistance to trafficked persons.
(i) Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – shall institute a systematic information and prevention campaign and likewise maintain a databank for the effective monitoring, documentation and prosecution of cases on trafficking in persons.
(j) Local government units (LGUs) – shall monitor and document cases of trafficking in persons in their areas of jurisdiction, effect the cancellation of licenses of establishments which violate the provisions of this Act and ensure effective prosecution of such cases. They shall also undertake an information campaign against trafficking in persons through the establishment of the Migrants Advisory and Information Network (MAIN) desks in municipalities or provinces in coordination with DILG, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), NGOs and other concerned agencies. They shall encourage and support community based initiatives which address the trafficking in persons.
In implementing this Act, the agencies concerned may seek and enlist the assistance of NGOs, people’s organizations (POs), civic organizations and other volunteer groups.
Section 17. Legal Protection to Trafficked Persons. – Trafficked persons shall be recognized as victims of the act or acts of trafficking and as such shall not be penalized for crimes directly related to the acts of trafficking enumerated in this Act or in obedience to the order made by the trafficker in relation thereto. In this regard, the consent of a trafficked person to the intended exploitation set forth in this Act shall be irrelevant.
Section 18. Preferential Entitlement Under the Witness Protection Program. – Any provision of Republic Act No. 6981 to the contrary notwithstanding, any trafficked person shall be entitled to the witness protection program provided therein.
Section 19. Trafficked Persons Who are Foreign Nationals. – Subject to the guidelines issued by the Council, trafficked persons in the Philippines who are nationals of a foreign country shall also be entitled to appropriate protection, assistance and services available to trafficked persons under this Act: Provided, That they shall be permitted continued presence in the Philippines for a length of time prescribed by the Council as necessary to effect the prosecution of offenders.
Section 20. Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. – There is hereby established an Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, to be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Justice as Chairperson and the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development as Co-Chairperson and shall have the following as members:
(a) Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs;
(b) Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment;
(c) Administrator, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration;
(d) Commissioner, Bureau of Immigration;
(e) Director-General, Philippine National Police;
(f) Chairperson, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women; and
(g) Three (3) representatives from NGOs, who shall be composed of one (1) representative each from among the sectors representing women, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and children, with a proven record of involvement in the prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons. These representatives shall be nominated by the government agency representatives of the Council, for appointment by the President for a term of three (3) years.
The members of the Council may designate their permanent representatives who shall have a rank not lower than an assistant secretary or its equivalent to meetings, and shall receive emoluments as may be determined by the Council in accordance with existing budget and accounting, rules and regulations.
Section 21. Functions of the Council. – The Council shall have the following powers and functions:
(a) Formulate a comprehensive and integrated program to prevent and suppress the trafficking in persons;
(b) Promulgate rules and regulations as may be necessary for the effective implementation of this Act;
(c) Monitor and oversee the strict implementation of this Act;
(d) Coordinate the programs and projects of the various member agencies to effectively address the issues and problems attendant to trafficking in persons;
(e) Coordinate the conduct of massive information dissemination and campaign on the existence of the law and the various issues and problems attendant to trafficking through the LGUs, concerned agencies, and NGOs;
(f) Direct other agencies to immediately respond to the problems brought to their attention and report to the Council on action taken;
(g) Assist in filing of cases against individuals, agencies, institutions or establishments that violate the provisions of this Act;
(h) Formulate a program for the reintegration of trafficked persons in cooperation with DOLE, DSWD, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), LGUs and NGOs;
(i) Secure from any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government or from NGOs and other civic organizations such assistance as may be needed to effectively implement this Act;
(j) Complement the shared government information system for migration established under Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995” with data on cases of trafficking in persons, and ensure that the proper agencies conduct a continuing research and study on the patterns and scheme of trafficking in persons which shall form the basis for policy formulation and program direction;
(k) Develop the mechanism to ensure the timely, coordinated, and effective response to cases of trafficking in persons;
(l) Recommend measures to enhance cooperative efforts and mutual assistance among foreign countries through bilateral and/or multilateral arrangements to prevent and suppress international trafficking in persons;
(m) Coordinate with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and other NGOs in monitoring the promotion of advertisement of trafficking in the internet;
(n) Adopt measures and policies to protect the rights and needs of trafficked persons who are foreign nationals in the Philippines;
(o) Initiate training programs in identifying and providing the necessary intervention or assistance to trafficked persons; and
(p) Exercise all the powers and perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes and objectives of this Act.
Section 22. Secretariat to the Council. – The Department of Justice shall establish the necessary Secretariat for the Council.
Section 23. Mandatory Services to Trafficked Persons. – To ensure recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into the mainstream of society, concerned government agencies shall make available the following services to trafficked persons:
(a) Emergency shelter or appropriate housing;
(c) Free legal services which shall include information about the victims’ rights and the procedure for filing complaints, claiming compensation and such other legal remedies available to them, in a language understood by the trafficked person;
(d) Medical or psychological services;
(e) Livelihood and skills training; and
(f) Educational assistance to a trafficked child.
Sustained supervision and follow through mechanism that will track the progress of recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of the trafficked persons shall be adopted and carried out.
Section 24. Other Services for Trafficked Persons. –
(a) Legal Assistance. – Trafficked persons shall be considered under the category “Overseas Filipino in Distress” and may avail of the legal assistance created by Republic Act No. 8042, subject to the guidelines as provided by law.
(b) Overseas Filipino Resource Centers. – The services available to overseas Filipinos as provided for by Republic Act No. 8042 shall also be extended to trafficked persons regardless of their immigration status in the host country.
(c) The Country Team Approach. – The country team approach under Executive Order No. 74 of 1993, shall be the operational scheme under which Philippine embassies abroad shall provide protection to trafficked persons insofar as the promotion of their welfare, dignity and fundamental rights are concerned.
Section 25. Repatriation of Trafficked Persons. – The DFA, in coordination with DOLE and other appropriate agencies, shall have the primary responsibility for the repatriation of trafficked persons, regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented.
If, however, the repatriation of the trafficked persons shall expose the victims to greater risks, the DFA shall make representation with the host government for the extension of appropriate residency permits and protection, as may be legally permissible in the host country.
Section 26. Extradition. – The DOJ, in consultation with DFA, shall endeavor to include offenses of trafficking in persons among extraditable offenses.
Section 27. Reporting Requirements. – The Council shall submit to the President of the Philippines and to Congress an annual report of the policies, programs and activities relative to the implementation of this Act.
Section 28. Funding. – The heads of the departments and agencies concerned shall immediately include in their programs and issue such rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this Act, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
Section 29. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – The Council shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act.
Section 30. Non-restriction of Freedom of Speech and of Association, Religion and the Right to Travel. – Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted as a restriction of the freedom of speech and of association, religion and the right to travel for purposes not contrary to law as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Section 31. Separability Clause. – If, for any reason, any section or provision of this Act is held unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions hereof shall not be affected thereby.
Section 32. Repealing clause. – All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders and rules and regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly: Provided, That this Act shall not in any way amend or repeal the provision of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”.
Section 33. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days from the date of its complete publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
NOTE: This Act, which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2444 and House Bill No. 4432 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on May 12, 2003 respectively.
Approved by the President: May 26, 2003.