After 5 years of being Tier 2 in the Global Trafficking in Persons (GTIP) Report, the Philippines anti-human trafficking efforts have finally been given top recognition as the US State Department gave the country the highest ranking of Tier 1 in its 16th GTIP report.
Countries ranked under Tier 1 are those whose governments fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking as provided under the United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. This is the highest ranking a country may receive.
Darlene Pajarito, Executive Director of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), lauded the latest recognition of the country’s anti-human trafficking efforts as the country has also been recognized as number one in Asia and third in the Asia Pacific by the Australia-based Global Slavery Initiated by Walk Free Foundation two weeks earlier.
“The Tier-1 ranking reflects the individual accomplishments as well as the collective efforts of all our partners in government, civil society and relevant stakeholders. United as a nation, with a singular goal to surely even if a tad slow, put an end to modern-day slavery and all forms of exploitation,” Pajarito said, adding “We guarantee that this report will serve as an inspiration for our government to continue and advance its mandate to protect the Filipino people from the clutches of human trafficking, whether here or abroad .”
IACAT is the body created by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation of Republic Act No. 9208, otherwise known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”.
Pajarito, a 2011 Global Trafficking in Persons Hero’s awardee, given by then US Department of State Secretary Hillary Clinton, attributed the top ranking to the collective efforts of the various government offices comprising the IACAT including its NGO partners and other individuals and groups whose grit and passion helped stave off the menace of human trafficking in the country, no matter the insurmountable odds.
In 2010, the country was in danger of being downgraded to Tier 3 (the lowest ranking signifying that a country has no effort to fight human trafficking) since it has been in the watch-list for 2 consecutive years prior. Amidst the threat of losing $700 million in non-humanitarian assistance, the government has since intensified its campaign through the IACAT and has continuously gained recognitions for its innovative campaigns.
The report underscored several initiatives of the government that contributed to its upgraded status. Among these included the “continued vigorous law enforcement efforts” led by the Philippine National Police and theNational Bureau of Investigation. The Supreme Court was also mentioned in the Report, citing the continuous trial system pilot project aimed to expedite trafficking in persons cases. Also cited were IACAT’s initiatives to make “strong efforts to provide anti-human trafficking training to authorities.” The report welcomed the government’s “sustained proactive identification of victims and increased provision of protective services” with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at its helm, mentioning its recovery and reintegration program and partnership with NGOs. Lastly, the work of Bureau of Immigrations (BI), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) were also mentioned for the government’s “robust efforts to prevent trafficking.”
The recommended action plan showed nine (9) points, majority of which encourages the Philippine government to step up in the identification and protection of victims, development of prevention programs, and increased efforts to investigate and prosecute labor traffickers and corrupt government officials involved in trafficking and trafficking-related crimes.
The GTIP Report is the US government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. This is used to monitor anti-trafficking reforms and specify the needs required by a state in terms of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.