ECPAT
Tourism establishments in this Bohol town should be child-safe, ordinance says
  • A local ordinance on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism has been newly enacted in Panglao Island, Bohol, a major tourist destination in the Philippines.
  • The new law sets standards that tourism-related establishments should adhere to and penalties for those that will violate.
  • This shall help address the problem of CST mostly taking place in small-scale accommodations, massage parlors, clubs, and similar establishments.

 

It is impossible to stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism without active cooperation from facilities where it occurs the most. This is no longer a problem in the municipality of Panglao Island in the province of Bohol, as it has just enacted the Tourism Child Protection Ordinance on January 28, 2016, its first municipal ordinance for this year.

 

Panglao, Island has an area of 80.5 square kilometers and is located southwest of the island of Bohol and east of Cebu. It is a popular tourist destination in the Philippines and includes several small islands, such as Gak-ang, Pontod, and Balicasag, one of the world’s most diverse marine sanctuary and a top choice for scuba divers. Currently, there are over a hundred (100) hotels and resorts that cater to tourists.

 

The new law is expected to strengthen the protection of children against sexual exploitation in travel and tourism in the town by requiring tourism-related companies and organizations to adopt and implement a child protection policy, conduct child protection orientations among all their personnel, display awareness raising materials against CST and report incidences arising in their respective premises. Further, the facilities should require proof of identities such as passport, other legal documents, and identification cards from guests coming with a child. This is to ensure that no child will alone in a room with an adult who is unrelated to him/her.

 

Non-compliance or violation of major provisions of the ordinance is punishable by a fine of up to Php 2,500 and non-renewal of annual business permits. Major offenses such as facilitation of prostitution of children to tourists or any adult shall be punishable under national child protection laws.

 

The Tourism Child Protection Ordinance is a result of ECPAT Philippines’ year-long lobbying and networking with the local government and private stakeholders in Panglao Island.

 

“I would like to commend the LGU of Panglao for showing true commitment against CST by passing the ordinance that localizes existing international and national laws. This is a comprehensive ordinance that should also be followed by other towns in Bohol and other tourist destinations across the nation,” says Dolores Alforte, ECPAT Philippines Executive Director.

 

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