Philippines – Sex Trafficking

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The Situation

The Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The number of Philippine and foreign child victims in the Philippines range from 20,000 to 100,000.1  Foreign tourists, particularly other Asians, sexually exploit women and children in the Philippines.2

Source

Philippine men, women, and girls were trafficked for labor3  and sexual exploitation to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, North America, and Europe. The government and NGO estimates on the number of women trafficked range from 300,000 to 400,000 and the number of children trafficked range from 60,000 to 100,000. Many Filipino men and women voluntarily migrate to work abroad but later coerced into exploitative conditions.4

Transit
The Philippines is a transit country for victims trafficked from China.5

Destination
The Philippines is a destination country for a small number of women who are trafficked from the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.), South Korea, Japan, and Russia for sexual exploitation.6

Internal Trafficking
The Philippines has internal trafficking of women and children from rural areas, particularly the Visayas and Mindinao, to urban areas, such as Metro Manila and Cebu, for sexual exploitation or forced labor as domestic workers, factory workers, or in the drug trade.7

The Philippine Government
The Philippine Government was placed in Tier 2 in the 2007 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but making significant efforts to do so. There are reports of immigration and police officers who are complicit in human trafficking.8
The 2003 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act criminalizes human trafficking, with penalties up to life in prison. The law allows private prosecutors, including NGOs, to file lawsuits against traffickers.9

Prosecution
The government has 17 anti-trafficking prosecutors in the Department of Justice and 72 prosecutors in regional Department of Justice offices. The Philippine government is currently engaged in 107 prosecutions for trafficking. A court in Zamboanga City sentenced a member of a trafficking syndicate to life imprisonment in March 2007 for having recruited six victims and selling them to a brothel in Malaysia.10

Child Sex Tourism
In 2006, five foreign tourists were arrested by Filipino police for sexually exploiting Filipino children. The Philippines continued to assist U.S. law enforcement authorities in the transfer to U.S. custody of Americans who sexually exploited children.11

Protection
The Philippine government supports many projects to protect trafficking victims in the Philippines and abroad. The government offers 42 temporary shelters, temporary residency status, relief from deportation, access to legal, medical, and psychological services to trafficking victims in the Philippines. The Philippine diplomatic missions abroad also offer psychological counseling to trafficking victims and overseas Filipino workers. In March 2007, the Office of Employment and Labor began a reintegration program for overseas workers who had been abused while working abroad. The Filipino government adequately identifies all trafficking victims; there have been no reports of victims who have been imprisoned, fined, or deported.12   Many victims have filed charges of illegal recruitment but the government lacked the financial resources to pursue the cases effectively.13

Prevention
The Philippine Government supports an array of prevention activities. In 2007, the government’s Interagency Council Against Trafficking established an anti-trafficking taskforce at the Ninoy Aquino International Ariport to share information on trafficking. In 2006, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) issued new employment requirements for Filipinos overseas to protect them from employer abuse, increasing the minimum monthly wage and minimum age. POEA also conducts pre-employment seminars for department overseas Filipino workers, trains Filipino diplomatic staff abroad, and screens foreign employers. The government also showed an anti-trafficking infomercial on local TV networks.14

Recommendations
The U.S. Department of State recommends that the Philippines government should make greater efforts to combat internal trafficking by increasing public awareness activities and vigorously prosecuting those exploiting victims as well as making greater efforts to prosecute and convict public officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking.15

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1   2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
2  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
3  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
4  2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
5  2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
6  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
7  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
8  2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
9  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
10  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
11  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
12  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
13  2006 US Department of State Human Rights Report
14  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
15  2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report