PH anti-trafficking record a joint effort — DFA

June 21, 2023 Cristina Lee-Pisco 199 views

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed on Tuesday the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report ranking the Philippines for eight consecutive years in Tier 1.

DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said the Philippines would continue to work with partners in civil society and the international community to enhance and improve policies, legislation, mechanisms and international cooperation to curb trafficking in persons.

“The Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and its relentless and comprehensive efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, protect victims and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” Daza said.

She added :“The 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report is an acknowledgment of the whole-of-government approach by DFA and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in their pursuit to proactively prevent trafficking in persons.”

Tier 1 is the highest in the three-tier ranking and indicates that a country “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

The State Department posted the initial 2023 TIP report last week but currently excludes the country narratives, including recommendations for specific states.

During the reporting period, however, the report took note of the growing number of “scam factories” operated in Southeast Asia, whose victims include Filipino nationals.

One victim was identified as Sonith, who left his home in the Philippines for what he believed was legal work in Thailand.

“Once in Thailand, traffickers from the People’s Republic of China took him to a remote compound and forced him, alongside many other Filipino individuals, to leverage their English language skills to run online cryptocurrency scams including illegal online gambling and investment schemes targeting American citizens and Canadians,” the report said.

Traffickers confined Sonith to the compound and made him work up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, with little access to food.

Sonith was able to escape after a year and returned to the Philippines but feared he would be prosecuted for what happened to him.

The report said this fear has prevented him from seeking help and support services.

Another case involved an unemployed 26-year-old Filipino who responded to a Facebook post offering call center jobs to English speakers.

The report did not name the victim but said she was several months pregnant when she traveled to Cambodia to begin work, only to be flown to a shuttered hotel casino in Sihanoukville and locked in a cell without food or water for days.

“Her captors detained and abused her for months, forcing her to create fake profiles on dating apps and other social media platforms to lure people into fraudulent cryptocurrency and other investment schemes under impossible sales quotas. She managed to escape but, tragically, not before the loss of her unborn child,” it said.