U.S. to provide $3.5 million to help PH combat child trafficking

Lian Buan

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U.S. to provide $3.5 million to help PH combat child trafficking
Under the agreement signed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and US Chargé d'Affaires Michael Klecheski, NGOs will have their share of the fund

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine and United States governments signed a Child Protection Compact (CPC), which aims to address problems of Filipino children being trafficked for sex and labor.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who is also the chairperson of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), signed the agreement on Tuesday, April 11, with US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Klecheski.

Under the agreement, the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons will provide up to $3.5 million to help the Philippines respond to child trafficking.

Non-governmental organizations and other civic groups will have their share of the fund through the IACAT. 

The Philippines will also allot P40 million for the intensified program against child trafficking.

The agencies involved are: 

  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (READ: DSWD cited for anti-human trafficking campaign)
  • Department of Labor and Employment
  • Bureau of Immigration
  • Philippine National Police
  • National Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government 

Aguirre said they seek to strengthen community-based mechanisms to identify and protect child victims of sex and labor trafficking.

He also said that on top of their priorities is to be able to investigate and prosecute more cases related to child trafficking. (READ: Human trafficking 101: What trafficking is all about)

The program will be piloted in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Visayas (Region VII).

“To protect the future generation of Filipinos from exploitation by organized criminal groups, the Philippines and the United States took it as a responsibility to devise a concerted and well-coordinated response against child labor trafficking,” Aguirre said in a statement. 

In June 2016, the US recognized the Philippines’ anti-trafficking efforts and even classified the country as Tier 1, the only Southeast Asian country to be given the label.

Countries under Tier 1 “fully meet” the minimum standards “for the elimination of human trafficking” under the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Tier 1 is the highest level, which includes the US itself.

One of the recommendations that the US gave the Philippines was to increase efforts to identify child victims of trafficking, which is what the latest agreement is highlighting. 

The US also recommended that the Philippines develop and implement programs aimed at reducing the demand for commercial sex acts, including child sex tourism and online child sexual exploitation.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his first State of the Nation Address, gave a marching order to intensify the war against human traffickers, particularly against illegal recruiters of overseas Filipino workers. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.