MANILA, Jun 22, 2019, PhilStar. The Philippine government fully meets the minimum standards in ending human trafficking, although it did not vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes, the US State Department said in its annual report released this week, reported the Philippine Star.
“The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore the Philippines remained on Tier 1,” the State Department said.
“These efforts included implementing prosecution procedures that reduce the potential for further harm to child sex trafficking victims; convicting and punishing traffickers; and robust efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers and to assist those who become victims of trafficking overseas,” it added.
However, Washington’s report said Philippine authorities did not fully probe officials accused of involvement in human trafficking.
The Philippine government also did not “consistently criminally prosecute labor traffickers, or increase the availability of specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of sex trafficking or services for male victims.”
Access to mental health services, employment training, and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate, the state department added.
According to the US report, traffickers, typically in partnership with local networks and facilitators, engage in illegal recruitment practices that leave migrant workers vulnerable to trafficking, such as charging excessive fees, producing fraudulent travel and contract documents, and confiscating property and identity documents.
Forced labor and sex trafficking of men, women, and children within the country also remains a significant problem, it added.
As its top recommendation, the State Department said the Philippines should “increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict perpetrators of trafficking, particularly complicit officials and labor traffickers.”
Ian Nicolas Cigaral