Sep 172014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/08/06MANILA3574.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3574 2006-08-28 05:30 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO2318
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3574/01 2400530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280530Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2661
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 003574

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, G/TIP, INL, DRL
LABOR FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM PGOV KCOR RP
SUBJECT: TIP UPDATE: CORRUPTION IMPEDES ANTI-TIP EFFORTS

REF: A. MANILA 2672
¶B. MANILA 944
¶C. 05 MANILA 6039
¶D. 05 MANILA 5710

¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) has made some progress in combating
trafficking in persons (TIP) in 2006. However, there have
been no additional convictions under the 2003 Anti-TIP Law
since December 2005 (refs C and D), despite dozens of human
trafficking cases pending or already on trial and about 80
other ongoing investigations. Slow processing times in the
courts, often three to four years, is one reason, but
corruption within GRP law enforcement agencies appears to be
another key obstacle. Local non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) continue to provide assistance to victims and place
pressure on GRP officials to bolster anti-TIP activities.
Some new USG programs should help to attack corruption in
major institutions. End Summary.

—————————————-
New cases, but awaiting more convictions
—————————————-

¶2. (SBU) Emboffs at all levels continue to encourage further
progress against trafficking in persons in discussions with
GRP officials and members of civil society. We have
underscored that, although the USG removed the Philippines
from the Tier 2 Watch List in 2005, the Philippines might
find itself back on the Watch List unless there are
discernible increases in prosecutions and convictions of
traffickers in 2006. According to Philippine Department of
Justice (PDOJ) estimates, 68 cases are currently pending or
already on trial, up from 58 in 2005, with PDOJ also
considering filing charges in approximately another 80 cases,
based on the preliminary investigations. (PDOJ is currently
working to update these estimates, which PDOJ oficials
believe to be incomplete.)

¶3. (SBU) PDOJ officials confirmed to poloff that there have
been no new convictions under the 2003 Anti-TIP Law (R.A.
9208) since December 2005, when four traffickers received
life sentences and two individuals pled guilty to lesser
charges in separate cases (refs C and D). According to PDOJ
contacts, the December 2005 trials came to a speedy
resolution largely because of continuous pressure from
President Arroyo and her staff on PDOJ prosecutors, with the
specific goal of removing GRP from the G/TIP Watch List.
President Arroyo plans to address a major TIP conference in
Manila on September 20, and will likely make further strong
exhortations for rapid progress in bringing traffickers to
justice.

¶4. (U) One important case, People vs Dennis Reci, involving
a Manila-based police officer on charges of child sexual
exploitation under the 2003 law, continues to move forward.
Reci owned a brothel at which allegedly trafficked minors
performed sexual acts for paying customers. The key witness,
one of the underage victims, testified in January and was
reunited with her extended family in metro-Manila.

————————–
Corruption a major problem
————————–

¶5. (SBU) According to multiple NGO sources, corruption at
both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) remains a major problem in
obtaining more prosecutions and convictions under the 2003
law. There are allegations of investigators receiving bribes
from suspects to stop the arrest of a suspect or to prevent
the proper collection of evidence at the scene. One NGO
representative cited the case of a co-owner of a brothel,
whom police released from custody after he bribed the police
officer-in-charge — in plain sight of NGO workers. There
are reports of police refusal to include key portions of
testimony from victims or witnesses in affidavits after the
suspect bribed the police officers conducting the interviews.
NGO officials have also asserted that police regularly
refuse to include important evidence in the investigative
reports for the prosecution, such as the use of marked money
to tie a specific person to the crime.

¶6. (SBU) According to one local NGO official, NGOs have to be
a &constant presence8 throughout the investigation process
in order to stave off attempts at bribery. In some
instances, NGO efforts have led to threats and intimidation
tactics, apparently from PNP and NBI officials, including

MANILA 00003574 002 OF 003

hate mail, visible tailing of NGO vehicles, and verbal
threats.

¶7. (U) PDOJ recently launched an investigation into an
alleged extortion racket among immigration officials in Cebu
in the Central Visayas. Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez
claimed publicly that immigration officers at the Cebu
International Airport have accepted payments ranging from
P200,000 (USD $4,000) to P600,000 (USD $12,000) in exchange
for the entry of undocumented aliens from India, Pakistan,
China, and Korea. Gonzalez admitted that human
smuggling/trafficking is “our number 1 problem… not only in
Central Visayas, this is everywhere.”

———————-
Important role of NGOs
———————-

¶8. (U) NGOs, notaly the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) and
the Inernational Justice Mission (IJM), continue to advace
the anti-TIP agenda. VFF, which the State Deartment’s
Trafficking in Persons Report highlighted in 2004 for its
best practices, recently renewd a five-year partnership
agreement with the Phiippine Ports Authority to continue to
operate hafway houses for victims and potential victims ofTIP, currently in Manila, Batangas, Sorsogon, and Davao. It
plans to open additional halfway housesand safe houses for
TIP victims in other regions VFF estimates that it has
assisted more than 1,000 victims since 2001, and has filed
13 separae cases on behalf of 51 victims under the 2003 law.
In July 2006, VFF signed a 10-year agreement wih the Manila
International Airport Authority to stablish an airport
halfway house for TIP victim. Under this partnership, VFF
will also train arport immigration and customsofficials on
how to dentify potential victims of human trafficking.
ol/C was one of the featured speakers at the signig
ceremony.

¶9. (U) IJM focuses on trfficked children and sexually
exploited children. Since January, IJM’s legal advocacy
program has initiated nine new cases with the PDOJ. Its
intelligence and investigation reports have led to the arrest
of 11 suspects, six of whom are currently in detention
without bail. IJM investigations have not yet led to any
convictions, but IJM’s private prosecutors are currently
handling 21 separate court cases in conjunction with PDOJ
counterparts. They have noted, however, that ten of those
cases are experiencing “significant delays” in the courts.
Since IJM started operations in the Philippines in 2001, IJM
has successfully rescued 70 children who were victims of
sexual exploitation, including alleged TIP victims. It has
also provided information to police leading to closure of
twelve bars that were employing and sexually exploiting
children and victims of trafficking.

¶10. (U) NGOs have further identified nine specific “hot spot”
regions where trafficking appears most serious, and have
called on the GRP to focus its efforts in the following
additional areas:
– Caraga
– Cotabato
– Zamboanga
– Davao
– Samar
– Leyte
– Cebu
– Negros Oriental
– Negros Occidental

——-
Comment
——-

¶11. (SBU) While corruption within law enforcement ranks has
impeded GRP progress on its anti-TIP efforts, new USG
programs — including the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s
Threshold Country program for the Philippines and the
assignment of an INL-funded Senior Law Enforcement Advisor to
assist with the PNP’s Integrated Transformation Program —
should make a positive difference. Cooperation between the
NGO community and GRP officials has been key to Philippine
anti-TIP successes thus far, a reflection of the Philippines’
vibrant civil society. Major NGOs nonetheless share the
USG’s disappointment that cases take so long and that
corruption has tainted or damaged legal proceedings. Local
as well as international attention to the problem will remain
essential in ensuring further progress against TIP.
Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:

MANILA 00003574 003 OF 003

http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
Jones

   

 

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