June 25, 2019
THE United States’ Department of State has acknowledged the contribution of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the campaign against human trafficking that enabled the Philippines to retain for the fourth consecutive year its Tier 1 rating in the US government’s human trafficking index for 2019.
“The Government of the Philippines fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore the Philippines remained on Tier 1,” the report said.
A Tier 1 rating means the Philippine government continues to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts to combat human trafficking.
The Philippines joins 32 others nations in the Tier 1 ranking, which include the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, South Korea and France, among others.
In its recently released 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), the US State Department cited the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit for its efforts to combat human trafficking, which deferred the departure of 24,753 passengers due to incomplete or missing travel documents or misrepresentation.
It added that the BI also referred 286 potential cases of suspected trafficking to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking Task Force for further investigation, identified 286 potential victims of trafficking and arrested nine suspected traffickers.
The BI also stopped 199 foreign registered sex offenders from entering the country last year.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente urged BI personnel in different ports to “remain vigilant as there is no sign that these human trafficking syndicates who prey on the poor, including minors, will stop their nefarious activities.”
BI Port Operations Division (POD) chief Grifton Medina said the TIP report would “inspire and motivate POD personnel manning the ports to sustain their efforts in fighting human trafficking.”
Medina added that more than 10,000 travelers were stopped from leaving the country from January to April this year, mostly for having incomplete travel papers and questionable purpose in going abroad.
The US report also lauded the efforts of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), which, it said, investigated 278 cases of alleged illegal recruitment and recommended 123 cases for filing in the courts.
The Philippine government reported 11 convictions, compared to eight convictions in 2017 out of 309 investigations.
The POEA filed 1,432 administrative charges against licensed recruitment agencies for fraudulent deployment or exorbitant fees, resulting in the cancellation of licenses of 40 agencies.
The POEA also reviewed 30 bilateral and multilateral labor agreements with other countries, and signed two multilateral and nine bilateral agreements aimed at preventing trafficking and reducing the vulnerability of overseas Filipino workers.
But the same report pointed out that while the Philippine government meets the minimum standards, “it did not vigorously investigate and prosecute officials allegedly involved in trafficking crimes, consistently criminally prosecute labor traffickers, or increase the availability of specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of sex trafficking or services for male victims.”
It added that access to mental health services, employment training and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate.
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