US vows to continue help as PH keeps Tier 1 ranking in human trafficking report

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 26 2020 03:04 PM

MANILA - The United States has vowed to continue working with the Philippines in the fight against human trafficking as the Philippines kept its Tier 1 ranking in the US Department of State’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.

“The Philippines was again recognized with a Tier 1 ranking in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report. The United States will continue to work with the Philippine government and local partners to prevent and protect vulnerable groups from trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC said the ranking shows the Philippines’ seriousness in combating all forms of human trafficking, pointing out that the country has retained its Tier 1 ranking for 5 years.

“For the fifth year in a row, the US has recognized the relentless and comprehensive efforts of the Philippines to prevent TIP, protect the victims, and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” the Philippine Embassy said, adding that the Philippines would continue to promote the welfare and protect the rights of migrant workers.

“We remain fully committed to working with domestic and international partners, including the US, in addressing this global concern. In this context, the Philippines shall continue to engage with both labor-sending but more importantly labor-receiving countries in promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of migrant workers everywhere,” the Philippine Embassy said.

The 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report said the government of the Philippines “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” adding it “continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period,” thus keeping its Tier 1 ranking.

The Report cited improvement in the coordination of services for returning Filipino migrant workers who were victims of trafficking overseas; convicting and punishing traffickers, including an official complicit in sex trafficking and labor traffickers; increasing assistance to survivors who provide testimony; and increasing the use of prosecution procedures that reduce the potential for further harm to trafficking victims.

The report, however, also cited shortcomings, particularly in the prosecution of those involved in human trafficking.

“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes, consistently criminally prosecute fraudulent recruiters and other labor traffickers, or increase support for specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of cyber-facilitated sex trafficking," it said.

Community reintegration services, including trauma-informed care, employment training, and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate,” it said.