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Trafficking in Persons Report – Philippines

July 14, 2004 · 


Trafficking in Persons Report
Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 14, 2004

IV. Country Narratives: East Asia and Pacific


The Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. There is internal trafficking from rural to urban metropolitan areas. Filipino women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation to destinations throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, are often lured abroad with false promises of legitimate employment. The Philippines is a transit point and destination for victims from the People¹s Republic of China (PRC). The sexual exploitation of children within the country is also a growing concern. Endemic poverty, a high unemployment rate, a cultural propensity towards migration, a weak rule-of-law environment, and sex tourism all contribute to significant trafficking activity in the Philippines.

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 Philippines is placed on Tier 2 Watch List due to the government¹s failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, particularly in terms of its weak implementation of the anti-trafficking law and a lack of progress in law enforcement. The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem and has been engaged internationally to combat it. Despite limited resources, the government supports several programs in the areas of prevention and protection. In 2003, the government passed anti-trafficking legislation that protects women and children from sexual exploitation and forced labor. The Philippine government should take immediate corrective action through the prosecution of traffickers, aggressive implementation of the new law, and the arrest and prosecution of officials involved in trafficking.


Anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in the Philippines remained weak in 2003. The government enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law in May 2003 that imposes harsh penalties against traffickers and clients. However, there has been no improvement in the government’s enforcement efforts. The government has investigated cases of trafficking­related offenses but prosecuted only three trafficking cases under the new anti-trafficking law. Government sources report two convictions for trafficking-related offenses under other laws, resulting in sentences ranging from time served to life in prison. The paltry number of prosecutions and convictions is a serious shortcoming and available data on prosecutions is also incomplete. Corruption and a weak judiciary remain serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers.


In 2003, the government continued to sponsor adequate protection efforts for trafficking victims. Under the 2003 anti-trafficking law, the government recognizes trafficked persons as victims and does not penalize them. The government provides a range of protective services, including temporary residency status, relief from deportation, shelter, and access to legal, medical, and counseling services. The government in 2003 also devoted anti-trafficking resources to protect overseas Filipino workers. The Philippine government trains law enforcement officials and consular officials in all of its embassies to deal with trafficking victims.


Fourteen government agencies coordinate the government¹s anti-trafficking efforts, much of which is prevention-oriented. In 2003, the government reported a decline in illegal recruitment and recruitment violations due to an intensified information campaign on overseas employment. Government offices conduct information campaigns on child labor and sexual exploitation for the hotel and tourism industries.



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