Sep 282014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-12-12 08:14
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

¶B. MANILA 5710
¶C. MANILA 5633
¶D. MANILA 5326
¶E. MANILA 4984
¶F. MANILA 4199
¶G. MANILA 3500

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (U) Summary: G/TIP Director Ambassador John Miller
visited the Philippines December 3-6 to evaluate GRP
progress in addressing serious problems that resulted in its
Tier Two Watch List rating in 2004 and 2005. Meetings with
government officials, NGOs, and the media focused on
increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions for
human trafficking. Ambassador Miller also discussed the
needs for more effective law enforcement cooperation to
fight cross-border trafficking and an end to the
exploitation of Filipino “entertainers” in Japan, as well as
USG project assistance to the local anti-TIP effort. The
visit — which included meetings in Zamboanga City in
Mindanao as well as a full schedule in Manila — received
extensive and positive media coverage. (Ref B reports on
unprecedented convictions under GRP’s 2003 anti-trafficking
law, which judicial authorities announced during Ambassador
Miller’s visit.) End Summary.

Need for More Prosecutions and Convictions

¶3. (U) G/TIP Director Ambassador John Miller’s December 3-6
visit focused on key areas for improvement identified in the
2005 TIP report on the Philippines, notably few prosecutions
and no convictions of traffickers under the Philippine 2003
anti-trafficking law, Republic Act 9208. Ambassador Miller
underscored the need for GRP law enforcement and judicial
agencies especially to take the issue more seriously and to
make solid progress in bringing traffickers to justice now.
GRP interlocutors admitted slow progress, described
inefficiencies in the Philippine judicial system — due to
overburdened police and courts, as well as systemic problems
of poor police-prosecutor cooperation, witness tampering,
and corruption — but promised greater efforts.

¶4. (U) During Ambassador Miller’s visit to Zamboanga City
in Mindanao on December 5, the Regional Trial Court
announced that earlier that day it had convicted two members
of a trafficking syndicate and sentenced them to life in
prison and a 2.5 million peso (USD 47,000) fine for
recruiting a woman to work in a restaurant then selling her
to a brothel in Malaysia (ref B). These were the first jail
sentences handed down under R.A. 9208, although three other
traffickers separately pled guilty in November to a minor
offense under this law, resulting in a sentence of six
months community service (ref C). The Zamboanga Interagency
Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), established to
implement the anti-trafficking law locally, described how it
had established close cooperation between the prosecutor’s
office and police in order quickly to prepare a solid case
in the more important case. In addition, the judge hearing
the case held weekly “marathon” hearings, resulting in a
speedy trial — only four months from arrest to conviction.
There are currently about 60 cases filed under R.A. 9208.

¶5. (SBU) In a December 6 meeting in Manila with members of
the national IACAT, prosecutors noted that the dockets in
metro Manila had more cases and that many positions in the
prosecutor’s office remain vacant due to low salaries, which
made progress in the capital region difficult. According to
Attorney Romulo Asis, head of the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI)’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division
(AHTRAD), coordination between investigators and prosecutors
is severely limited. Although Philippine law does not
prohibit law enforcers from working with prosecutors to
build a strong case, the prevailing culture frowns upon such
cooperation. Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Severino Gana
reported that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has increased
the number of prosecutors working on TIP cases to 95. He
added that the DoJ was expanding training for TIP
prosecutors with help from a USG-funded project (see para 8)
and it was preparing a manual for prosecutors outlining how
to prepare more effective cases. In a separate meeting with
Ambassador Miller, Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez
expressed confidence that more TIP cases would be resolved
in the coming months. Ambassador Miller stressed the
importance of maintaining momentum on TIP prosecutions so
that traffickers get the message that dealing in human
slavery will not be tolerated in the Philippines.

Cooperation on International Cases

¶6. (SBU) Officials from AHTRAD and the DoJ noted that they
had cooperated with U.S. officials to investigate and return
to the U.S. four Amcits who were eventually convicted under
the U.S. PROTECT Act for committing sex crimes in the
Philippines. Ambassador Miller assured the GRP officials
that the USG is committed to fighting trafficking worldwide
— including within the U.S. — and asked for the continued
cooperation of GRP authorities in bringing American
traffickers to justice as well. GRP officials commented
that they have received only limited cooperation from
Malaysian officials in several cases of trafficking,
including the successful case in Zamboanga. (Note:
Malaysia is reportedly a destination for victims trafficked
from the Philippines to work as domestic servants and in the
sex trade. End Note.)

Trafficking “Entertainers” to Japan

¶7. (SBU) Minister Eiichi Oshima, Deputy Head of Mission and
Consul General of the Japanese Embassy in Manila, told
Ambassador Miller that stricter regulations for
“entertainer” visas had reduced the number of Filipino
workers traveling to Japan for such work drastically. Since
the new rules took effect in March 2005, the number of
entertainer visas issued by the Japanese Embassy has fallen
steadily, as applications filed under the old rules worked
through the system (ref F). By November 2005, entertainer
visa issuances had fallen by 88 percent compared to November
¶2004. Oshima reported that, after initially fighting the
new rules, the GRP had accepted the increased scrutiny given
to entertainer visa applicants. This acquiescence occurred
following public statements by a group of NGOs and the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in
early 2005 supporting the GoJ’s plan to reduce trafficking
of Filipino women to Japan.

USG Assistance

¶8. (U) Members of Mission’s inter-agency TIP working group
briefed Ambassador Miller on several ongoing USG-funded
projects to support the prosecution of TIP cases and to
enhance public education and victims’ assistance programs.
The Rule Of Law Effectiveness (ROLE) program, End Child
Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), the American Center
for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), and the Visayan
Forum Foundation (VFF) have educated hundreds of police,
prosecutors, and social workers on the 2003 anti-trafficking
law and on how to prosecute cases more effectively under the
law (ref E). The prosecutors and police in Zamboanga were
among the first recipients of ROLE-sponsored training in
June 2005. The International Justice Mission (IJM), also
operating with a USG grant, provides attorneys free of
charge to TIP victims to help them pursue cases against
traffickers. (Note: The Philippine judicial system allows
private attorneys to file criminal TIP cases on behalf of
victims to augment the insufficient number of government
prosecutors. End Note.)

¶9. (U) Other USG-sponsored programs seek to raise public
awareness of the dangers of trafficking and to assist
victims. The CBCP’s National Office of Mass Media (NOMM)
runs public information campaigns using TV, radio,
newspapers, web sites, and text messaging campaigns to
educate the public on the dangers of trafficking. The
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATWAP) offers
education to vulnerable communities to try to prevent women
and children from falling victim to traffickers. During a
December 4 visit to the Visayan Forum Foundation’s (VFF)
halfway house in Manila — which is partially supported by
the USG — Ambassador Miller met with trafficking victims,
who shared their stories, often ones of graphic horror. VFF
provides shelter and job training to victims whom it
intercepts at ports along trafficking routes with the help
of the Philippine Coast Guard, Port Police, and shipping
companies. VFF also supports victims in pursuing criminal
cases against the traffickers. These and other NGOs
presented reports of their progress and shared insights into
the nature of the trafficking problem in the Philippines at
a December 6 roundtable discussion. Ambassador Miller
thanked them for their dedication and urged them to continue
to fight on behalf of Filipino trafficking victims.

Press Coverage

¶10. (U) Major national newspapers covered Ambassador
Miller’s visit and the trafficking convictions in Zamboanga.
At a December 6 press conference, journalists questioned
whether the Philippines’ current Tier Two Watch List ranking
would go up or down in 2006. Ambassador Miller responded
that additional convictions of traffickers would be a
crucial factor in determining next year’s ranking, but
pointed out that the TIP Report is not a goal in itself, but
rather a tool to “shine a spotlight” on the trafficking
problem, with the goal of ending this scourge and the toll
it takes on so many victims internationally. Several major
newspapers also carried press releases issued by Zamboanga
City Mayor Celso Lobregat and the DoJ trumpeting the
December 5 TIP convictions. Ref A contains a column by well-
known Catholic anti-TIP activist Father James Reuter noting
the importance of Ambassador Miller’s visit and of USG
assistance in this area. Father Reuter met with Ambassador
Miller during the December 6 NGO roundtable discussion.

¶11. (U) Ambassador Miller did not have the opportunity to
review this message.



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