Lawmakers call for probe on human trafficking in the Philippines

LAWMAKERS have called for a congressional probe into the unabated incidence of human trafficking of adults and minors in and out of the Philippines.

Reps. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) and Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) filed House Resolution 2650 directing the House Committee on Social Services to conduct an
inquiry on reports of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that the Philippines is a source, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.

Rodriguez said men, women, and children are also being trafficked from rural areas of the country to urban centers including Manila, Cebu, Angeles City and Mindanao.

“There is a very alarming need to address the problem, find ways and enact measures to ensure that human trafficking in the country be stopped and to ensure that no one else becomes victimized,” Rodriguez

Rodriguez said men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in the agriculture, fishing, and maritime industries while women and children are trafficked within the country for forced labor as domestic workers and small-scale factory workers, for forced begging, and for exploitation in the commercial sex industry.

“Hundreds of victims, including children are subjected to forced prostitution each day in well-known and highly visible business establishments that cater to both domestic and foreign demand for
commercial sex acts,” Rodriguez said.

The U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report has placed the Philippines in the level of Tier 2 for not complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but making significant efforts to do so.

The report cited a number of high-risk factors in the Philippines that can contribute to human trafficking, among others, the conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP); as well as the pervasive and persistent poverty, population growth, and dependency burdens, high unemployment and underemployment and constraints to small and medium enterprise

“Children are vulnerable to various military groups in the Philippines including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a separatist group, and the New People’s Army (NPA), which have been identified by the United Nations as among the world’s persistent perpetrators of violations against children in armed conflict, including forcing children into service,” Rodriguez said.

“Just last May, police authorities, particularly the Task Force Against Human Trafficking in Zamboanga City rescued more than 100 suspected victims of human trafficking from Basilan, who were all promised scholarships and jobs,” Rodriguez said.

Other high-risk factors contributory to human trafficking in the Philippines as mentioned by the 2011 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report is the presence of a large informal economy, estimated to be between 40-80% of Filipino workers, who are for the most part not registered or recorded in official statistics and are beyond the reach of social protection and labor legislation.

“The report also mentioned the presence of an established organized crime network in the Philippines that plays upon the above factors and fraudulently recruits persons for jobs that are in reality forced labor situations; and the persistent law enforcement officials’ complicity in human trafficking and corruption at all levels of government that enables traffickers to prosper,” Rodriguez said.

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