Prosecution of human trafficking cases has risen significantly in the last few months. Some are attributing this to the new administration of President Aquino. Possibly that is true. It could also be the cases finally moved through the pipeline. I honestly don’t know the answer to that.
Human Trafficking In The Philippines
Clearly though prosecutions are up significantly during his first eight months leading credence to the notion that his administration is in fact behind this. Take a look at this quote:
In the first eight months of the Aquino administration, Philippine courts sentenced twice the number of human traffickers than they did under the previous president’s rule.
Records show that the Philippines — which the international community has closely watched as a prostitution and forced labor hotspot — has so far convicted traffickers in 39 cases.
In an interview with GMA News Online, Visayan Forum president Cecil Oebanda said the courts resolved 21, or 54 percent, of these cases in 2010 alone. The period between 2003 and 2010 produced only 18 convictions, she added.
The supreme court of the Philippines has also chimned in on this matter. Chief Justice Renato Corona has asked courts in the
country to expedite cases. I don’t recall who it was that asked the courts to hold court at least twice a week when these cases are before them. Twice a week? That’s expedited? Well, one of the charms off the country is its slower paced life style. The more casual approach to the world.
The Philippine is hoping for an upgrading in its ranking on human trafficking throughout the world. The USA has a watch list and recently downgraded the Philippines to Level 2. This is the second lowest ranking. If it falls again, aid to the Philippines from the USA would be put in jeopardy. I doubt that is going to happen though. If the USA were to cut off aid, it would also cut off influence. With Al-Qaeda here, the USA can’t do that.
Many expats and locals alike have been complaining about Filipino being barred by immigration officials from leaving the country. This is clearly as a result of Aquino policy. This was one of the first thing he addressed when he was elected last year. Directing The Bureau of Immigration (BI) to implement strict adherence to the laws and regulations toward departing Filipino. There is part of the effort to reduce human trafficking.
Some are surprised to learn that pornography and prostitution fall under the human trafficking law. Westerners usually think of slavery when we think of human trafficking. By law, sexual exploitation is included in human trafficking. All that is required is “through abuse of a victim’s vulnerability.” That is pretty broad and will usually include paying a poor Filipina for things like nude photographs.
If you’re going to live in the Philippines you need to make yourself aware of these kind of laws.
Many say that foreigners are the most likely to be involved in human trafficking. But, maids and other house servants in the Philippines are far too often held against their will. This is almost always done by Filipino. We foreigners are likely not the most frequent violators of this law at all. We do usually get the most press coverage.
There is one high profile case involving a mayor of a city near Angeles City that has received a lot of attention. That case involved an underage prostitute and pimp. I will continue to follow that but it could be in the courts for a long time.
I personally know one 16 year old Filipina that was held against her will. She is 16 now and this happened several years ago. She told me that the her Filipino boss caught her trying to escape and beat her. “He hit me in the face” she explained. She was around 13 at the time.
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