The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday welcomed the US State Department’s report citing the Philippines’ efforts to stop human trafficking, and vowed to strengthen measures against “modern-day slavery.”
The US on Thursday retained the Philippines on its list of “Tier 1” countries in the Trafficking in Persons Report.
Tier 1 status means a country has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, exerted efforts to address the problem and complied with minimum requirements set by the United States Trafficking Victims Prevention Act of 2000.
In a statement, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd stressed the government’s commitment to end human trafficking.
“We acknowledge that the Philippines, even in Tier 1, should do more to combat human trafficking, and [the government]vows to continue its intensified efforts. Nobody has the right to profit from the deprivation of the freedom of others. When we dehumanize others, we dehumanize ourselves,” Aguirre said.
The Philippines attained Tier 1 status in 2016, after placing on the Tier 2 list from 2011 to 2015, and on the Tier 2 watch list before that. It is the first Southeast Asian country to reach Tier 1 status.
Data from the DOJ-led Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking showed that from July 2016 to June 2017, 1,567 trafficking victims were attended to and assisted, and 44 traffickers were put behind bars.
“The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by convicting and punishing more traffickers, identifying more victims through proactive screening procedures, and expanding its efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers,” the US report said.
However, the report said the government had failed to improve the quality of protection for trafficking victims, particularly mental health care and services for male victims.
The country also failed to “vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes or expand its pilot program to address the backlog of trafficking cases in the courts.”