U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - The Philippines

The Philippines (Tier 2)

The Philippines are a source, transit and, to a lesser extent, destination country for persons trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation. A strong tradition in the country of seeking economic opportunity outside the Philippines puts many Filipinos at risk of trafficking. Filipino women are trafficked for sexual exploitation to destinations throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Traffickers lure such victims abroad with false promises of legitimate employment. International organized crime gangs traffick persons from Mainland China through the Philippines. Less frequently, the Philippines are the final destination point for victims from China. There is internal trafficking from rural to urban metropolitan areas. The sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines through pornography, the Internet, and sex tourism is a growing concern.

The Government of the Philippines does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem and has been engaged internationally for a number of years to combat it. The Philippine president ordered a senior-level task force headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to address trafficking. The 2002 agreement between the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to work cooperatively on transnational crime matters, specifically to include trafficking in persons police work, has the potential to be a significant step forward. Despite economic fluctuations that affect its ability to provide consistent funding, the government still engages in good measures in the areas of prevention and protection. An area for improvement, however, is in criminal prosecution against traffickers.


Fourteen government agencies are involved in anti-trafficking efforts, much of which is prevention-oriented. Officials oversee pre-departure sessions with overseas contract workers to warn them about trafficking. Officials have made commendable efforts to control "mail-order bride" businesses through increased monitoring. Government offices conduct information campaigns on child labor and sexual exploitation for the hotel industry and other tourism businesses.


The Philippines in March 2003, enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The government carries out some arrests and prosecutions of traffickers, but those efforts are small in comparison to the scope of the problem. The number of convictions is a serious shortcoming. Available data on prosecutions is incomplete, but reports indicate that there were 18 arrests, one conviction and 29 trafficking establishments closed in the reporting period. There also were 13 arrests of child pornography producers. The government is addressing malfeasance in the issuance of official documents that certify women as "entertainers" eligible for foreign visas. Corruption remains a problem that requires further attention.


Given years of experience with trafficking cases, many Filipino officials have developed an understanding of the issue and how to assist trafficking victims. The government's "Half-Way Home" program works with NGOs to repatriate victims and provide them temporary shelter, transportation, counseling and financial assistance. The government trains law enforcement officials on dealing with trafficking victims. Philippine embassies take steps to assist victims abroad. Consular officials in embassies receive awareness training on dealing with trafficking victims.


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