The Philippines has complied with the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking, thereby retaining its Tier 1 ranking, according to the US State Department in a report released in June.
“The Government of the Philippines fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore, the Philippines remained on Tier 1,” according to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
The report acknowledged the efforts of the Philippine government in going after traffickers, preventing trafficking, and identifying and assisting victims of trafficking.
A Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem, and complies with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
It is the highest ranking that could be given to any country by the TIP although it did not mean that problem did not exist.
The report said, however, that while the government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts in the field of prosecution and prevention, it failed to expand the availability and quality of its services for trafficking victims, particularly on mental health care and services for male victims.
“The government did not 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,” it said.
Despite the TIP observation, however, the Philippines recorded an increase in anti-human trafficking operations from 329 cases in 2015 to 533 in 2016 that led to the arrest of 272 suspects on the same year, a rise from 151 in 2015.
The government during the reporting period, initiated prosecution of 441 alleged traffickers and secured convictions of 55 in 2016, which was higher than the 42 in 2015.
In the 2016, the Philippines was upgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 1 as a result of the efforts of various government agencies to combat human trafficking, including the creation of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and enactment of laws like Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act..