Vice President Jejomar Binay believed the Philippines can do better in curbing human trafficking following the release of the Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report that placed the country in Tier 2 for the fourth consecutive year.
Binay is the chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).
On June 20, US state secretary released the GTIP that ranks the Philippines in Tier 2 with countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but are exerting significant efforts to do so.
Countries in Tier 1 are fully compliant with the TVPA.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the country’s not being downgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List or to Tier 3 was already a “feat.”
“We are thankful for the US State Department’s guidance in helping us identify our areas of opportunity,” the Vice President said.
“On behalf of all IACAT members, I wish to assure our countrymen that we remain firm in our commitment to achieve Tier 1 status. We have taken note of all of the recommendations listed in the 2014 GTIP Report and we will focus our energies to adopt them,” he added.
“All our efforts will be for nothing if we do not have the support of those who have been victimized. I therefore urge all victims of human trafficking to file cases against those who abused you, and for those who have already filed cases to pursue your complaint until these unscrupulous individuals are convicted and put behind bars. Rest assured that the government will exert all efforts to assist and protect you while the cases are being heard,” Binay said.
The latest GTIP Report noted that “the government nearly doubled its funding for the [IACAT] to the equivalent of approximately $2.4 million and continued efforts to implement anti-trafficking laws and policies at the national, regional, and provincial levels.”
The report also said the Philippines made notable efforts to prevent the trafficking of overseas workers though training and awareness campaigns for government officials, prospective overseas workers and the public.
The country also “proactively identifies and rescues victims exploited within the country,” it said.
The GTIP also noted that the Philippines got 31 trafficking convictions, including first two convictions in Pampanga, which has a high prevalence of human trafficking.
The report made several recommendations for the country, including the need to increase efforts to hold government officials criminally accountabe for trafficking and trafficking-related offenses, and the need to increase efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict “an increased number of both labor and sex trafficking offenders implicated in trafficking within the country and abroad.”
The US State Department also urged the government to “hold continuous trials to decrease the burden that lengthy, discontinuous trials places on victims,” to “increase the number of government officials, including police and prosecutors, whose duties are dedicated solely to anti-trafficking activities” and to “continue to strengthen anti-trafficking training for police, prosecutors, judges, local officials, and diplomats.”
Furthermore, the GTIP report recommended the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in cases of trafficking and the provision of victims compensation through seized assets.