PH strengthens its anti-child trafficking commitment

The Philippine government has reiterated anew its anti-child trafficking commitment.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra conveyed the reiteration during the recent final high-level dialogue between senior Filipino and United States officials to mark accomplishments and outline next steps after the conclusion of the four-year US – Philippines Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership

ILLEGAL ALIEN. Operatives of Police Regional Office 3 arrest a 43-year-old Czech Republic businessman and rescued five minors whom the suspect allegedly sexually abused in Angeles City, Pampanga in this 2018 photo. The Philippines continues to strengthen its watch on online sexual exploitation and trafficking of children even as it concluded the four-year US – PH Child Protection Compact Partnership on April 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of PRO-3 Facebook)

The dialogue centered on recognizing the progress made over the last four years towards achieving the CPC Partnership’s objectives of improving the government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), identify and respond to child labor trafficking, provide comprehensive services to protect child trafficking victims, and prevent future human trafficking crimes.

Secretary Guevarra led the Philippine panel to the dialogue which included civil society leaders, They committed to carry forward and build on the accomplishments achieved under the Partnership and reaffirmed their commitment to combat all forms of child trafficking.

“Through the CPC, the Philippine government has been able to carve out a more targeted and focused response to OSEC by identifying key objectives and adjusting critical resources in order to address priority responses in the prevention and prosecution of OSEC cases as well as the protection of victim survivors,” Guevarra said.

Acting Director Dr. Kari Johnstone of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), for his part said: “Today we celebrate the tremendous work accomplished under the Child Protection Compact Partnership over the last four years and look ahead towards new initiatives to sustain the improved capacity of both the Government of the Philippines and civil society organizations achieved under this partnership.”

US Embassy in Manila Chargé d’Affaires John Law also said their “strong partnership with the Philippine government and civil society organizations has built a solid foundation reflected in various efforts aimed at eliminating all forms of exploitation against children.”

“I remain confident that this Partnership will become even more effective at combating many forms of abuse against of children in the years to come,” Law added. Signed by the two governments in 2017, the Partnership concluded last April 11, 2021.

Its jointly developed and implemented plan strengthened the capacity of the Philippine government and civil society to address OSEC and child labor trafficking, specifically improving their ability to prosecute and convict child traffickers, provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victims, and prevent these crimes from occurring.

Throughout the Partnership, the TIP Office committed P237 million (US$4.9 million) and the Philippine Justice Department’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons pledged approximately P44.6 million to meet these objectives.

Programming was implemented by partner organizations International Justice Mission and The Salvation Army.

Under it, the International Justice Mission has successfully identified 312 OSEC victims and facilitated the arrests of 97 perpetrators of trafficking crimes, while The Salvation Army trained more than 355 social workers on victim-centered care and directly supported 44 survivors in aftercare facilities.