The Philippines is among the 30 countries ranked Tier 1 in 2023 for meeting minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking set by the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended (TVPA). Other Tier 1 countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore.
Released on June 15, 2023, the highly anticipated TIP report affirms the Philippine government's focused leadership in the fight against trafficking, as well as the work of countless partners and supporters.
A highlight of the report is its acknowledgment of the survivor’s key role in combatting these crimes and recognized the government’s dedication to survivor-informed measures.
“Survivors are essential partners in the anti-trafficking movement. Survivors possess and bring an invaluable perspective that can improve programs, policies, and strategies to ensure all efforts are victim-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally competent responses to trafficking," said Cindy Dyer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Survivor Charito*, Chairperson of the Philippine Survivor Network (PSN) Chairperson, said of the report:
As a survivor of trafficking, and on behalf of the Philippine Survivor Network, it is duly time for the justice systems and governments to listen to and collaborate with survivors. I believe that survivors like me are more than our abuse stories. We are capable of working together with leaders to integrate our experiences and perspectives to policies and other initiatives and interventions for child protection.
Survivor leaders played a key role in the Philippine government’s efforts throughout 2022. For example, when crafting action plans, the government turned to survivors for consultation on the Fourth National Strategic Action Plan Against Trafficking in Persons and the National Action Plan (NAP) Against Trafficking in Human Beings. In addition, the government has emphasized survivor-centered best practices, providing trauma-informed care training for police, social workers, and prosecutors that focuses on survivors and their experiences to help avoid further trauma. Prosecutors and investigators recorded child survivor interviews, which protected children from having to testify again and again, often in front of their traffickers.
Survivors also received personal and financial support in their search for justice in 2022 as well. Trained victim-witness coordinators helped over 300 survivors navigate the judicial process, and nearly 100 survivors received financial assistance.
The Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking (IACAT) continues to advocate for survivor leadership and survivors now join the growing list of IACAT members.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell P. Bendoval, OIC-Executive Director of IACAT, commented on the report, saying:
"While this recognition in the U.S. TIP Report for our country’s efforts in combatting human trafficking is to be celebrated, it also comes with a huge responsibility for the government, particularly the IACAT to continue improving our efforts to eliminate severe forms of human trafficking,”
The 2023 U.S. TIP Report may be accessed at the U.S. Department of State's official website.
The report recommends actions to maintain a Tier 1 status, and the government is encouraged to further strengthen survivor engagement with measures like job training and compensation for consulting on government training and programs.
“This outstanding accomplishment underscores the Philippines’ position as a global leader in the fight to end trafficking in persons, including the online sexual exploitation of children. On behalf of IJM, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the Philippine government for their exceptional leadership in creating a nation—and a world—free from exploitation.” said Atty. Samson Inocencio Jr., National Director and Regional Vice President of IJM’s Program Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children
The report emphasizes the need for additional investment in prevalence studies to uncover critical data and gain a more accurate understanding of the reality of trafficking. Coinciding with this recommendation, IJM is preparing to release a study called the Scale of Harm, which will provide valuable estimates on the prevalence of trafficking for the production of child sexual exploitation material in the Philippines.
This groundbreaking study aims to contribute to the development of data-driven strategies and policies, further fortifying the ongoing efforts to combat this exploitation and ensure the protection of vulnerable children.