Non-profit organizations have praised the Duterte administration for its effective response against trafficking.
The groups said they have seen the “strong political will” of President Rodrigo Duterte in directing policies against human trafficking, as well as his efforts to improve the country’s policies for Overseas Flipino Workers (OFWs).
Susan Ople from the Blas F. Policy Center said they have to give credit to the President.
“In his first SONA [State of the Nation Address], he already made it clear that human trafficking is one of his priorities, at par with the campaigns against drug trafficking,” she said during a forum in Quezon City on Thursday.
As the only Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-country among 36 countries that have made efforts to eliminate human trafficking, the Philippines remains in the Tier 1 category of the United States’ Trafficking-in-Persons 2017 report.
According to International Justice Mission (IJM) National Director Sam Inocencio, the Philippines’ anti-trafficking law is considered as “one of the strongest in the world,” since child trafficking in the country is punishable by life imprisonment.
“Now, in 2016, we’ve moved to Tier 1. This only shows the efforts pulled in by the government,” he said.
The groups said while the government responds effectively against online sexual exploitation of children, there is still a need to provide more funds for anti-trafficking units.
Inocencio said the country now has the basic infrastructure to increase its anti-human trafficking interventions that “actually matter.”
“[We need] law enforcement that would ensure the deterrent impacts of these interventions, and also to increase awareness in communities, targeting families, targeting local communities where these crimes happen,” he said.
“The problem before is that there was no dedicated unit…. even majority of the cases that have been filed in court were dismissed because it requires technical expertise especially now with the online sexual exploitation,” Inocencio added.
The groups also pledged to target local communities and families as they move against the “borderless crimes” of online sex exploitation that usually victimizes children younger than 12 years old.
So far this year, the group solved 10 actual cases of sexual exlploitation and was able to rescue 203 victims since 2011.
Meanwhile, Ople said her group is seeing progress in the government’s plan to aid OFWs.
It includes the Duterte administration’s one-stop shops established in Metro Manila and other regions, where applicants can process their documents for their jobs abroad.
Ople said there is still a need to improve the recruitment process for potential OFWs, and the acceleration of job creations for them, especially for those who apply from Mindanao and other regions.
“I hope that we have our own map so that we can provide jobs and livelihood to women, particularly those who are from Visayas and Mindanao, so that working as domestic helpers in the Middle East would not be their first option,” she said.