The Philippines has not done enough to stamp out human trafficking, according to the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released by the United States.
The report placed the Philippines at Tier 2 in its three-tier ranking system, which means that the country has yet to fully comply with the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.
The TIP report provides the most comprehensive information on government efforts around the world to combat modern slavery.
“In this latest report, the State Department determined that the Philippines made significant efforts to combat human trafficking; however, the country has not yet fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.
The report released by Secretary of State John Kerry identified the Philippines as a “source country,” and to a much lesser extent, “a destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.”
An estimated 10 million Filipinos work abroad, and many are subjected to sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage in the fishing, construction, education, nursing, shipping, agricultural industries and hospital-related jobs throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America, the report said.
Aside from recruitment agencies that use illegal practices to persuade Filipinos to work abroad, traffickers also use email, social media, as well as student, intern and exchange program visas “to circumvent the Philippine government and destination countries’ regulatory frameworks for foreign workers,” it added.
According to the report, forced labor and trafficking domestically is also a problem in the country, especially for displaced communities in conflicted areas in Mindanao. Also, domestic servitude, forced begging and labor, and sex trafficking happen in cities such as Manila, Cebu, Angeles City and other urbanized areas in Mindanao, it said.
Traffickers partner with small local networks to engage in recruitment practices “that leave migrant workers vulnerable to trafficking such as charging excessive fees and confiscating identification documents.”
High demand for commercial sex acts also proliferate in tourist destinations such as Boracay, Olongapo, Puerto Galera and Surigao.
The TIP report also noted a United Nations study that focus on the continued recruitment and use of children for combat and noncombat roles by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Child sex trafficking “remains a serious problem,” the report added.
It said public officials, including diplomats abroad and other law enforcement agencies, are allegedly “complicit” in trafficking operations in the country.
“Reports assert some corrupt officials accept payments or sexual services from establishments notorious for trafficking, accept bribes to facilitate illegal departures for overseas workers, downgrade trafficking charges, or overlook unscrupulous labor recruiters.”
“The report urged the [Philippines] to increase its efforts to hold government officials administratively and criminally accountable for trafficking and trafficking-related offenses through criminal prosecutions, convictions, and stringent sentences,” the embassy said.
It also recommends “expanding the continuous trial mechanism to increase the speed of trafficking prosecutions, developing and implementing programs to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, and increasing the availability of shelter and protection resources for trafficking victims, particularly males.”
“As part of our global efforts to combat human trafficking, the US government is committed to working with the [Philippines] and its people to prevent trafficking activities in the Philippines, to prosecute perpetrators, and to protect victims.”