Home Top News Manila keeps Tier 1 rank in US trafficking report

Manila keeps Tier 1 rank in US trafficking report

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REUTERS

THE PHILIPPINES has met minimum global standards in the fight against human trafficking for the ninth straight year, with state efforts to prosecute traffickers and enforce monitoring, according to a report by the US Department of State.

In its Trafficking in Persons Report published on its website on Monday, the agency said Manila showed “serious and sustained efforts” against human trafficking from April 1 last year to March 31, keeping its Tier 1 status.

It cited Philippine efforts to monitor trafficking-related corruption cases and its campaign to go after traffickers, implement laws that punish it and mechanisms to protect victims.

“While Tier 1 is the highest ranking, it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem or that it is doing enough to address the crime,” the State Department said.

“Rather, a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has made efforts to address the problem that meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards,” it added.

It also cited Philippine efforts to investigate trafficking schemes linked to offshore gaming operations in the country.

The department conducts the yearly assessment to monitor the efforts of countries in fighting human trafficking, grading each on a three-tier scale.

Countries and territories under Tier 1 fully comply with the minimum standards, those under Tier 2 do not but are making significant efforts to comply with the standards, while Tier 3 countries are not making significant efforts to comply with them.

Under the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the US may decide not to give aid unrelated to humanitarian causes and trade such as cultural exchange programs to countries in Tier 3.

The Philippines must screen more trafficking suspects involved in online scams, boost support to government and nongovernment programs that support trafficking victims and develop a central database of illegal recruiters and human trafficking cases, the agency said.

“Due to insufficient screening for trafficking, especially among individuals exploited in online scam operations, the government likely inappropriately detained, penalized and deported some trafficking victims solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked,” according to a copy of the report.

The US department also urged Manila to punish government officials and law enforcers who help suspected sex traffickers. Citing government data last year, it said 103 immigration officers were investigated over links to trafficking, 63 of whom were dismissed over the crimes.

This was still fewer than the 232 immigration personnel the government probed in 2022.

“Traffickers sometimes take advantage of the absence of adequate immigration personnel at smaller airports in the Philippines,” the US agency said.

“Anecdotal reports indicate police and local government units exploit labor trafficking individuals who voluntarily surrender to officials running the government’s anti-drug campaign.”

Mama Fatima Singhateh, United Nations special rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, has said the Philippines lacked trained officials at the village level to monitor reports of child sexual abuse.

A total of 868 trafficked workers at a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) were rescued during a police raid in Tarlac province on March 13. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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