The Philippines has maintained its Tier 1 status in the 2017 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for the second year in a row. It is the only Southeast Asian country to achieve the said status.
The Tier 1 status means that it meets the minimum standard to eliminate trafficking.
With the said status, Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center said the Philippines “can claim the mantle of being a role model in the fight against human trafficking within ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region despite being one of the biggest labor-sending countries in the world.”
In particular, the 2017 TIP Report commended the country for convicting and punishing more human traffickers; identifying more victims through proactive screening procedures; and, expanding efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers.
Lawyer Sam Inocencio, national director of the International Justice Mission, said that more work needs to be done, especially to stop online sexual exploitation of children.
In 2014, the Department of Justice has received over a thousand cyber-tips per month from the US involving online sexual exploitation of children, with the Philippines as the country source. In 2016, the number increased to 5,000 per month.
Last May 30, a joint rescue operation of government agencies and volunteer groups resulted in the rescue of four minors and the arrest of five suspects in Iligan City. The suspects were caught in the act of offering live stream online sexual abuse of the children with ages 2, 6, 8 and 13.
“Every case involving the online sexual exploitation of children requires a coordinated international response because it is a crime without borders,” he said.
“Tier 1 ranking is a great accomplishment, but there are still hundreds of children being sexually exploited online at this moment, waiting to be rescued,” Inocencio added.