Oct 032014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2200 2005-05-13 05:24 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED 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 670

¶1. (U) Summary: The Philippines has many top quality NGOs
focused on trafficking in persons (TIP) and they enjoy a
close working relationship with the Philippine government.
Key NGOs making contributions in prosecution (a unique
feature of Philippine law permits NGOs to press forward cases
as prosecutors), protection, and prevention are discussed in
Paras 6-8 below. Philippine NGOs have a very high absorptive
capacity and USG grants multiply the impact of their anti-TIP
efforts. End Summary.


¶2. (U) The Philippines has many top quality NGOs focused on
TIP. There are over a dozen working on TIP nationwide, as
well as scores of smaller, local NGOs tackling the problem in
their communities. Some of these NGOs such as the
International Justice Mission (IJM), which is involved in
investigation and prosecution, are local outlets of
international NGOs. Others, such as the Visayan Forum
Foundation (VFF), which is engaged in protection, are
homegrown. Anti-TIP NGOs coordinate with each other through
the Multi-Sectoral Network Against Trafficking (MSNAT).

Close Working Ties with the GRP

¶3. (U) NGOs enjoy a close working relationship with the GRP.
On a rotating basis, three NGOs are represented on the
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), which was
formed pursuant to the 2003 Anti-Trafficking law. NGOs are
also assisting IACAT to develop a national database to track
trafficking statistics. Senior government officials, such as
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
Undersecretary Lourdes G. Balanon, have publicly reiterated
that the GRP highly values the synergy it has achieved with
NGOs in combating TIP. Several GRP agencies have formal
relationships with NGOs. As a sign of its commitment to
cooperate with NGOs, for example, DSWD provides free office
space to the Child Justice League (CJL), which focuses on
investigation and prosecution (see below). In addition, the
Department of Health closely coordinates with local NGOs to
provide crisis intervention, and child protection and
counseling to TIP victims undergoing treatment in government

¶4. (U) Another example of close GRP-NGO cooperation involves
the unique feature of Philippine law that permits NGOs to
press forward cases as prosecutors. According to a 2002
circular published by the Supreme Court, private attorneys
may be authorized to work as prosecutors if there is a “heavy
work schedule (impacting) public prosecutors or in the event
of a lack of public prosecutors.” This feature allows
motivated private-practice attorneys, who are usually
compensated at higher rates and often better trained than
public prosecutors, to take up TIP cases. The results of
this innovation are still flowing in, but, so far, IJM and
other NGOs involved in private prosecutions appear to be
highly effective.

¶5. (U) Anti-TIP NGOs also work hand-in-hand with local
governments. A leading example of close cooperation is in
Davao City, Mindanao, where NGOs meet regularly with local
officials. With the help of local NGOs, Davao City recently
passed the country’s first municipal anti-TIP ordinance.
NGOs have also been advising Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in
his efforts to fight TIP by supplementing prosecutors’ and
judges’ salaries, monitoring traffickers through the city’s
Task Force on Public Safety, and providing supplies,
equipment and vehicles to anti-TIP groups. The city also has
excellent relations with the VFF, which operates a shelter at
the Port of Davao (many victims of trafficking come from
Mindanao, an impoverished region). In another example of
local governments working with NGOs, Quezon City Mayor
Feliciano Belmonte, at the urging of local NGOs, recently
signed an ordinance meant to curb violence against women and
children. The measure also created a municipal
Anti-Prostitution Task Force composed of NGOs, the city’s
Department of Social Services and Development, and the
Philippine National Police (PNP).
Investigation and Prosecution

¶6. (U) Key NGOs involved in TIP investigation and
prosecution include:

— IJM (Philippines): IJM employs lawyers, investigators,
and social workers, and is focused on rescuing TIP victims
and helping strengthen the GRP’s prosecution efforts. IJM
investigates allegations of TIP, brings cases to court as a
private prosecutor, and facilitates interagency
communication. IJM has conducted training for hundreds of
law enforcement officials throughout the archipelago. Since
2001, IJM has coordinated with the GRP in an effort to
increase the number of pro bono prosecutions under a variety
of TIP-related statutes, including the Anti-Trafficking law.
IJM gathers evidence against traffickers and shares this
information with the National Bureau of Investigation and the
PNP. The police then use this information to obtain arrest
warrants for traffickers, and IJM sometimes even accompanies
the police on raids. In late 2004, The USG funded a grant to
IJM to accelerate TIP prosecutions. IJM believes that its
work will result in convictions under the 2003
Anti-Trafficking law, but has realistic expectations given
the notoriously slow Philippine justice system.

— Child Justice League (CJL): CJL is a non-profit
association of lawyers and paralegals working to litigate,
educate, and advocate against TIP. CJL provides free legal
aid for trafficked children, and conducts community seminars
to inform officials and the public about the Anti-Trafficking
law. Tapping the conscience of the legal profession, CJL
nurtures relationships with law schools, law firms and
individual practitioners, urging participation in the
anti-TIP effort. CJL is currently handling 10 TIP cases and
has already provided legal services in over 1,000 cases. CJL
lawyers have conducted over 100 legal training seminars for
social workers, teachers, local government officials,
prosecutors, law enforcement officers, health workers and
court personnel. DSWD and corporate donors provide most of
CJL’s funding.

Protection and Assistance to Victims

¶7. (U) Key NGOs involved in providing protection and
assistance to victims include:

— VFF: VFF assists nearly 3,000 TIP victims annually by
rescuing women and children, documenting domestic and
international cases of TIP, and collaborating with IJM on
prosecutions. At major ports, VFF has helped organize
anti-trafficking task forces that include port officials, the
police, the Coast Guard, shipping companies, the Department
of Labor and Employment, DSWD and other NGOs. More than half
of the women and girls rescued by VFF had been promised jobs
as entertainers in Japan, but were first obligated to undergo
six months of “training” in Metro Manila nightclubs and
brothels. Boys are often rescued on their way to forced
agricultural labor and cybersex dens. VFF shelters victims
and coordinates with DSWD to return them to their homes when
appropriate. VFF benefits from a USG USD 84,052 grant to its
shelter program, and a USD 423,429 grant meant to intensify
awareness about TIP and help develop a TIP prosecution

— The American Center for International Labor Solidarity
(ACILS): ACILS, in partnership with the Trade Union Congress
of the Philippines (TUCP), has undertaken the “No to
Trafficking Project.” Through this project, TUCP and ACILS,
which is also known as the “Solidarity Center”: assist
victims through a network of telephone hotlines; help train
judges and prosecutors; host a Technical Working Group with
15 GRP agencies; work on developing a TIP database; and run a
TIP awareness campaign. The project also provides
gender-issue training to law enforcement officials to help
improve anti-TIP prosecutions. ACILS helped develop a
standardized reporting format for TIP which PNP stations use
nationwide. In February 2003, ACILS received a two-year USD
325,000 grant from the USG to promote TIP awareness and
prosecution, and push implementation of anti-TIP legislation
down to the neighborhood level.

— Development Action for Women Network (DAWN): DAWN was
founded in 1996 to assist Filipino women and their
Japanese-Filipino children. DAWN’s program includes
provision of social services and job training. DAWN also
works to reintegrate victims and mobilize public opinion.
DAWN helps victims who are abroad to return to the
Philippines, and then provides short-term shelter,
counseling, legal assistance and medical care. DAWN also
operates a medium-term job training project in which victims
are trained to sew, weave and operate computers. The
Japanese government has donated sewing machines to this
program. When its budget permits, DAWN is planning to open a
larger shelter for its growing client base.


¶8. (U) Key NGOs involved in prevention include:

— The National Office of Mass Media (NOMM): Under the
leadership of Father James Reuter, Jr., an Amcit who has
been working in the Philippines since the 1930s, NOMM has
been warning the public about traffickers through a daily
radio drama on TIP carried on 48 stations throughout the
country. NOMM has also pioneered the use of television,
newspapers and text messaging as ways to reach out to
potential victims in rural areas. NOMM and other Catholic
Church entities, such as the influential Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines, are among the most steadfast
supporters of TIP prevention efforts and use the Church’s
national reach to press their anti-TIP campaign. In October
2004, NOMM received a USG grant for USD 165,000 to fund one
year of anti-TIP publicity.

— End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the
Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT): ECPAT
works to raise general TIP awareness in the tourism and the
travel industries, and within high-risk communities. ECPAT
is a member of the Special Committee for the Protection of
Children, a group that meets under the auspices of the
Department of Justice. ECPAT works closely with local
government units in major provinces and cities, other NGOs,
and church-based organizations. In October 2004, ECPAT
received a three-year grant from the USG of USD 78,000.

— Advancement of Workers’ Awareness Regarding Employment
(AWARE): AWARE works with the private sector, including
recruitment companies and other NGOs, to orient prospective
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) )- a group known to be
prone to traffickers — to the realities of working abroad.
AWARE conducts for the GRP mandatory two-day pre-departure
orientations, which brief prospective workers on legal
protection and worker rights issues, the management of
contractual disputes, the handling of personal finances, and
other issues. GRP agencies concerned with overseas workers’
welfare guide AWARE’s curriculum. Recruitment companies,
other NGOs, and private contributions provide support to

— The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women ) Asia Pacific
(CATW-AP): CATW-AP, a regional organization, brings together
27 anti-TIP NGOs in a network to fight trafficking. CATW-AP
(Philippines) President Aurora Javate-De Dios seeks to curb
trafficking by focusing the attention of political leaders,
the media, and other components of civil society, on the
problem. CATW-AP was instrumental in the passage of the
Anti-Trafficking law and advocates against prostitution,
pornography and sex tourism. CATW-AP provides preventive
education programs on migration and TIP at the community
level, and conducts dialogues with GRP agencies on preventive
measures. CATW-AP services include referring TIP cases to
member and partner organizations for legal, counseling and
support services. In October 2004, CATW-AP received a
three-year USG grant of USD 278,000.


¶9. (U) Trafficking is a serious problem in the Philippines,
a Tier Two Watch List country — and the vibrant, innovative,
and energetic NGO community has demonstrated unique abilities
to combat it. One of the keys to progress in fighting TIP in
the Philippines is continued work by the NGO community to
assist overburdened prosecutors, and augment protection and
prevention programs, including through effective public
outreach. The USG has played a crucial role in upgrading NGO
efforts by providing seed funding for important projects,
including through the grant to IJM to accelerate prosecutions
and the grant to VFF to assist its halfway houses. Mission
will continue to focus on helping to enhance the capacity of
NGOs to face challenges in the TIP arena in a long-term,
sustainable manner.



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