Sep 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/10/08MANILA2324.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2324
2008-10-09 09:23
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1975
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2324/01 2830923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090923Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2020
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002324

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, INL, DRL
LABOR FOR ILAB
JUSTICE FOR CRIMINAL DIVISION, OPDAT
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN EAID RP
SUBJECT: MANILA AIRPORT OPENS NEW SHELTER FOR TRAFFICKING VICTIMS

REF: A. MANILA 0951 (STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS)
¶B. MANILA 0333 (ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS IN MINDANAO)

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Anti-trafficking efforts at the country’s
foremost international airport took a step forward with the
October 7 inauguration of the Manila International Airport
Authority’s first halfway house for victims of human
trafficking. The Ambassador, in her keynote address at the
event, joined Philippine officials and NGOs in praising the
opening of the halfway house as another advancement in the
fight against trafficking, and she expressed the continued
support of the U.S. government in anti-trafficking efforts in
the Philippines. The NGO Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) will
manage the facility with the support of U.S. government
funds, providing more outreach, services, and protection to
victims who are intercepted and rescued at the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport. This public-private anti-trafficking
partnership replicates a successful formula that the VFF has
employed at eight port facilities across the country. This
latest halfway house project demonstrates the government’s
ongoing commitment to fight trafficking in persons. While
challenges remain, increasing official awareness of the
trafficking problem is leading government agencies like the
Manila International Airport Authority and the Department of
Justice to become more aggressive in combating TIP. END
SUMMARY.

A STRONGER PARTNERSHIP LANDS AT MANILA’S AIRPORT
——————————————— —

¶2. (SBU) Seventeen months after groundbreaking, on October 7
the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), in
cooperation with anti-trafficking NGO Visayan Forum
Foundation (VFF), inaugurated the first halfway house for
victims of human trafficking at Ninoy Aquino International
Airport. The VFF, with support of U.S. government funds,
will manage the facility, providing more outreach, services,
and protection to victims intercepted at the airport. The
new structure has dormitory capacity for 20 persons and will
serve as a processing center and temporary shelter for
victims and potential victims of human trafficking who are
rescued at the airport. After short stays at the facility,
victims will be transferred to VFF’s primary safehouse, which
is being enlarged to accommodate the growing need for safe
spaces for trafficking victims. While the new airport
shelter did not officially open until this week, the
airport’s Task Force Against TIP has already been
coordinating with VFF and other NGOs since early 2007 on the
rescue and protection of victims. This year alone, 70
trafficking victims were rescued in anti-trafficking
operations at the airport and referred to the VFF for support
services.

¶3. (SBU) The new halfway house replicates a successful
partnership model already in place in ports across the
country: at Manila’s North and South Harbors; in Batangas and
Sorsogon in southern Luzon; in Iloilo in western Visayas; and
in Mindanao in the cities of Davao, Surigao, and Zamboanga.
The halfway house at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
is the first shelter for trafficking victims at an airport in
the Philippines, and is believed to be the first dedicated
trafficking shelter at any airport in the Asian region.
Looking toward the future, the VFF is developing plans for
new halfway houses at the airports in the city of Angeles
(Clark), north of Manila, and in the city of Zamboanga in
Mindanao.

¶4. (SBU) In her keynote address, the Ambassador praised the
opening of the halfway house as an important event in the
ongoing fight against human trafficking. She called
attention in particular to the relentless dedication of VFF’s
Executive Director, Cecile Flores Oebanda, who has inspired
all of VFF’s partners in the anti-trafficking community. The
Ambassador also lauded the hard work and contributions of the
Manila Airport Authority under the direction of General
Manager Alfonso Cusi, whose office funded the construction of
the halfway house. She went on to note that the Airport
Authority and the airport’s Task Force Against TIP, through
their partnerships with other government agencies and NGOs,
are at the forefront of the fight against trafficking and are
making important strides in rescuing victims. The Ambassador
underscored the importance of prosecutions as an essential
component of anti-trafficking efforts and expressed the hope

MANILA 00002324 002 OF 002

that there will be more successful prosecutions in the future.

AIRPORT AUTHORITIES ALERT TO TRAFFICKING
—————————————-

¶5. (SBU) VFF has been working closely with the staff at the
Manila airport to train them on anti-trafficking approaches.
Through this training as well as U.S. government material
support, the airport’s Task Force Against TIP has become more
efficient at sharing information and resources between
members since its inception in February 2007. Their efforts
have achieved some success. In September, authorities
rescued at Ninoy Aquino International Airport 17 minors who
were bound for the Middle East and arrested an immigration
employee as a trafficking suspect. Concern for victims
remains paramount for authorities. Bureau of Immigration
Commissioner Marcelino Libanan noted that 161 trafficking
victims were rescued at Ninoy Aquino International Airport
between May and August, his first four months in office.
However, while authorities have made headway in rescuing
victims, there remain tough challenges in turning trafficking
arrests into convictions. The Bureau of Immigration employee
arrested for suspected involvement in the trafficking of 17
minors was eventually released from police custody, according
to a Department of Justice (DOJ) official, because the
airport’s Task Force acted prematurely and did not acquire
enough evidence before the arrest. Lack of evidence is still
a common reason for the failure to prosecute traffickers in
court.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EXPANDS ANTI-TIP WORK
——————————————-

¶6. (SBU) Despite ongoing challenges, the government as a
whole is increasingly committed to anti-trafficking efforts.
The DOJ has stepped up its anti-trafficking efforts by
increasing the number of prosecutors dedicated to anti-TIP
from 17 to 20 at the national level, with 95 additional
prosecutors at regional, provincial, and municipal levels.
The DOJ has filed in court or gone to trial on 40 new cases
this year, while it has more than doubled the total number of
trafficking cases under investigation, from 123 to 305 as of
September. The DOJ, as chair of the Interagency Council
Against Trafficking (IACAT), is expanding outreach and
education efforts to seaport and airport immigration and
police officers at venues around the country. It is also
developing standard operating procedures for anti-trafficking
task forces at ports of entry. A DOJ official noted that
Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor was working hard to get a
budget allocation for IACAT in the next fiscal year. A
regular budget stream would permit IACAT to undertake more
anti-TIP initiatives and more effectively fulfill its mandate
as a the government’s principal anti-trafficking coordinating
body.

KENNEY

   

 

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