Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/06/05MANILA2757.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2757 2005-06-16 06:28 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002757

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PMBS, EAP/P, G/TIP, EAP/RSP, INL,
DRL/IL, DRL/CRA
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS USAID FOR ANE/TS – SAULS
LABOR FOR ILAB
BANGKOK PLEASE PASS TO G/TIP SR. COORDINATOR MARK TAYLOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KWMN ELAB PHUM RP
SUBJECT: TIP: PHILIPPINE REACTION TO THE RELEASE OF THE
ANNUAL REPORT

REF: A. STATE 89010

¶B. MANILA 2599
¶C. MANILA 2193

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

¶2. (SBU) Summary: Local reaction to the Philippine
narrative of the 2005 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report has
been mixed, though basically positive. The media response —
aided by Mission’s extensive outreach efforts — has been
straightforward and informative. Philippine government
reaction has generally been constructive, though there was
some disappointment that the Philippines remained on the Tier
Two Watch List. On June 5, in direct response to the report,
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced the creation of a
new interagency group to fight TIP. Anti-TIP NGOs have
roundly praised the report. Mission continues to drive home
the points made in the report and to encourage concrete
action by the GRP. End Summary.

Media Reaction
————–

¶3. (U) Local reaction to the Philippine narrative of the
2005 TIP Report has been mixed, though basically positive.
The media response — aided by Mission’s extensive outreach
efforts — has been straightforward and informative. On June
4, all major television networks carried news of the release
of the report in Washington during their evening news
broadcasts, and there was also some coverage June 5 in the
print media. On June 6, Mission showed a videotape of the
Department’s press event hosted by the Secretary and
Ambassador Miller. Acting Polcouns then gave a presentation
on the Philippine chapter of the report and answered
journalists’ questions. Media coverage of the event
highlighted the key USG point that convictions for TIP crimes
are necessary, with one major daily noting that none of the
reporting period’s 348 convictions in the EAP area were in
the Philippines. On June 8, Mission’s “Virtual Consulate
Davao” hosted a live chat with Acting Polcouns to discuss the
report. There was significant participation in the chat,
including from Mindanao. Undersecretary of Social Welfare
and Development Lourdes Balanon, a key GRP official involved
in trafficking issues, joined the chat and highlighted the
government’s commitment to fight TIP. Mission also posted
the Philippine narrative of the report on its web site, as
well as a link to the entire report. The Philippine
narrative has also been placed on Embassy Manila’s SIPRNET
site.

¶4. (U) A sampling of some press reaction follows:

— The Manila Times editorialized that “the report is an
eye-opener.” The editorial asked readers if they can live
with “the notoriety of being labeled a country that abets
human trafficking” and stated that there is “no excuse for
the government not to take trafficking head-on.”

— The Philippine Star reported that Tier ranking standards
are applied equally to every country.

— The Philippine Daily Inquirer emphasized that the GRP is
“in danger of losing US aid” if further steps are not taken
against trafficking.

— “What’s On and Expat,” a local weekly for expatriates with
a large circulation, covered the report with the front-page
headline: “Human Trafficking: Still a Major Problem,”
giving prominent, factual coverage to remarks by the
Secretary and Ambassador Miller at the June 3 press event.

SIPDIS

GRP Reaction
————

¶5. (SBU) Philippine government reaction has generally been
positive. (Note: See Ref B message reporting on the
official delivery of the Philippine narrative to the
Department of Foreign Affairs.) On June 5, in direct
reaction to the report, President Arroyo announced that the
GRP would form a new interagency group to fight TIP, which
would be chaired by Merceditas “Mercy” Gutierrez, a close
adviser to Arroyo and her legal counsel. The same day Arroyo
also ordered the Bureau of Immigration to intensify its
efforts against trafficking syndicates. When asked about the
report, Presidential Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye remarked
that the GRP “is doing everything possible to arrest and
prosecute those involved” in trafficking and that the issue
was “one of the concerns of the government.” Secretary of
Justice Raul Gonzalez, obviously upset that the Philippines
remained on the Tier Two Watch List, reacted on a down note,
commenting in reference to the report: “These are sweeping
statements if not an outright criticism of our judicial
system.” Gonzalez attempted to justify the slowness of the
judiciary system by referring to the GRP’s commitment to due
process.

¶6. (SBU) A sampling of other official reaction follows:

— Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo told the press
that the GRP has plans to expedite prosecutions by setting up
special TIP courts.

— Executive Director of the National Commission on the Role
of Filipino Women Emmeline Verzosa told poloff that the GRP
and the USG are “of one mind” on TIP.

— Chairman of the Presidential Anti-Illegal Recruitment Task
Force Reynaldo Jaylo told the press that the Philippines has
a slow judicial system, but must do more to halt trafficking.
He added that prosecuting and convicting traffickers is “not
as easy as shooting (them) down…and ending what they do for
good.”

— On June 15, Chairman of the GRP-owned Philippine Amusement
and Gaming Corporation and presidential confidant Efraim C.
Genuino met with poloff at his (Genuino’s) request. He used
the meeting to underscore that the GRP plans to work closely
with the Japanese government and the USG to end trafficking
of Filipino “entertainers” overseas.

NGO Reaction
————

¶7. (U) Key NGOs welcomed the report. Some reaction
follows:

— International Justice Mission Acting Executive Director
Sam Inocencio told poloff that he agreed that the main
problem for the Philippines in terms of TIP was its slow
judiciary. He pointed out to poloff that the lack of a
national TIP database remained a major obstacle.

— Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) President Maria Cecilia
Flores-Oebanda expressed gratitude for the report’s inclusion
of her NGO as an example of public-private partnerships in
the report, and she noted to poloff that VFF would like to
expand its work.

— Development Action for Women Network Executive Director
Carmelita Nuqui agreed with the report’s key points, stating
in a meeting with poloff that the GRP “has to exert more
effort to combat trafficking.”

— Head of the National Office of Mass Media and longtime
Amcit anti-TIP activist Father James Reuter, Jr. hailed the
report’s accuracy in a congratulatory note to poloff, calling
it “excellent.”

— Friend of the Overseas Contract Workers, an advocacy group
sometimes critical of the USG, wrote to poloff that the
report “depicts an objective picture.”

Comment
——-

¶8. (SBU) The TIP report carries a great deal of credibility
and weight in the Philippines, and the GRP was clearly
disappointed that the Philippines remained on the Tier Two
Watch List. The government’s reaction, however, was
basically constructive. It is not exactly clear how the new
interagency group created by Malacanang will fit in with all
the other GRP offices and groups working on the issue,
however. We do not have any further information regarding
the Foreign Secretary’s mention of the possible creation of
special TIP courts. Mission will continue to drive home the
points made in the report and encourage concrete action by
the GRP. Upcoming events include the June 18-21 visit of
G/TIP Senior Coordinator Mark Taylor and a PAS-sponsored
“Achieving Trafficking Convictions” conference for law
enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges that is slated
to be held in June or July (Ref C).

MUSSOMELI

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.