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2016 Trafficking in Persons Report

October 11, 2016 · 

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The Philippines is a source country and, to a 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 a significant number of these migrant workers are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor—predominantly via debt bondage—in the fishing, shipping, construction, education, nursing, and agricultural industries, as well as in domestic work, janitorial service, and other hospitality-related jobs, particularly across the Middle East, Asia, and North America. Traffickers, typically in partnership with small local networks, engage in unscrupulous recruitment practices that leave migrant workers vulnerable to trafficking, such as charging excessive fees and confiscating identity documents.

Traffickers use email and social media to fraudulently recruit Filipinos for overseas work. Illicit recruiters use student, intern, and exchange program visas to circumvent the Philippine government and destination countries’ regulatory frameworks for foreign workers. Many victims experience physical and sexual abuse, threats, inhumane living conditions, non-payment of salaries, and withholding of travel and identity documents.

Forced labor and sex trafficking of men, women, and children within the country remains a significant problem. Women and children from indigenous families and remote areas of the Philippines are most vulnerable to sex trafficking and some are vulnerable to domestic servitude and other forms of forced labor. Men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in the agricultural, fishing, and maritime industries. Many people from impoverished families and conflict-areas in Mindanao, undocumented returnees, and internally displaced persons in typhoon-stricken communities are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, forced labor in small factories, and sex trafficking in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, central and northern Luzon, and urbanized areas in Mindanao.

Trafficking also occurs in tourist destinations such as Boracay, Angeles City, Olongapo, Puerto Galera, and Surigao where there is a high demand for commercial sex acts. Child sex trafficking remains a pervasive problem, typically abetted by taxi drivers who have knowledge of clandestine locations. Very young Filipino children are coerced to perform sex acts for live internet broadcast to paying foreigners; this typically occurs in private residences or small internet cafés and is facilitated increasingly by victims’ close family relatives. NGOs report greater numbers of child sex tourists in the Philippines, many of whom are nationals of Australia, Japan, the United States, and countries in Europe; Filipino men also purchase commercial sex acts from child trafficking victims. Organized crime syndicates allegedly transport sex trafficking victims from China through the Philippines en route to other countries.

The UN reports armed militia groups operating in the Philippines, including the New People’s Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, continue to recruit and use children, at times through force, for combat and noncombat roles.

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