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Importance beyond ranking

The Philippines managed to keep its Tier 1 ranking in the 2022 Trafficking in Persons report released by the US State Department, indicating that the government has made efforts to address the problem that meet the standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

While the country maintained its Tier 1 ranking since 2016, the report cited it for failures in reporting vigorously probing labor trafficking crimes and holding accountable officials complicit to the crimes.

“The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity,” the report read.

Such efforts included identifying more victims than in 2020, drafting standard operating procedures on the identification and monitoring of trafficking-related corruption cases, and sentencing nearly all traffickers to significant prison terms.

It also lauded the creation of the Department for Migrant Workers, supporting more victims in participating in the criminal process, and increasing funding to the interagency anti-trafficking council.

However, while meeting the minimum standards, the Philippines “did not report vigorously investigating labor trafficking crimes that occurred within the Philippines or take adequate steps to investigate and arrest individuals suspected of purchasing commercial sex from trafficking victims, nor did it provide training for labor inspectors on indicators of human trafficking,” the US State Department said.

It also observed that government slightly decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts as fewer traffickers were prosecuted and convicted and officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking crimes were not held accountable.

As the report left a laundry list of recommendations on where improvements can be made by the Philippine government, the country whose people are highly vulnerable to human trafficking should take heed and try to keep its Tier 1 ranking not for appearances sake, but for the safety and protection of the Filipino people.*

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