Oct 042014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3500 2005-08-01 08:42 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.



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: TIP Update; Latest on Prosecutions; Municipalities
agree to fight trafficking


¶B. MANILA 2757
¶C. MANILA 1618

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified –
Please handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The International Justice Mission (IJM)
reports that it continues to press forward with 15
Trafficking in Persons (TIP)-related prosecutions. We have
asked the Department of Justice (DoJ) to confirm the total
number of prosecutions ongoing nationally and it says it is
gathering the information. The DoJ informs us that 10
prosecutors newly designated to help in the TIP arena are
currently working on preliminary investigations of TIP
cases, but not on a full-time basis. An important
association of Philippine municipalities recently signed a
first-of-its-kind anti-TIP agreement with a key NGO and a
large shipping company. The GRP — aided by IJM —
continues to try to record its first conviction using its
anti-TIP law, but such a result remains elusive. End

News re Prosecutions

¶3. (U) The Philippine office of the NGO IJM and the GRP’s
Department of Justice (DoJ) continue to pursue trafficking-
related cases under the terms of the 2003 Anti-Trafficking
Law (R.A. 9208) and other statutes. IJM reports that, as
of July 27, it is working on nine cases under R.A. 9208,
plus another six cases under other statutes, such as the
Anti-Illegal Recruitment Act — a figure unchanged since
Mission’s last report on this matter on June 30 (ref a).
Mission has requested statistics from the DoJ on TIP
prosecutions on a nation-wide basis for the first half of
2005 (the IJM figures are only part of the total). The DoJ
says it is compiling the information and promised to
provide it to us as soon as it becomes available.

¶4. (SBU) In terms of specific cases, IJM reports that it
is making headway in a case it filed on June 2 in Manila
against police officer Dennis Reci, the first public
official charged under the anti-TIP law (ref a). The
Manila Regional Trial Court has set an arraignment date for
Reci for October 10. IJM has filed a motion for the
issuance of a warrant of arrest for a second suspect in the
case, a person known as “Mommy Angel.” On July 6, the
Department of Labor and Employment issued an order to close
thc club, which Reci owned, and where he and others
allegedly coerced minors into sexual slavery. In the
meantime, a well-known case the DoJ has been pursuing
against suspected trafficker Alice Tongco — which IJM
expected to be concluded by mid-2005 — has been delayed.
The judge hearing the case has been on recess for over two
months and prosecutors do not expect the trial to resume
until mid-August. Lilian Doris Alejo, the DoJ prosecutor
for the case, recently told us that key witnesses for the
prosecution have recanted their testimony and will likely
be called to testify for the defense, making a verdict
against the defendant increasingly unlikely. The DoJ and
IJM had hoped that this case would be the first in which a
defendant was convicted under R.A. 9208 (ref c).

DoJ on Prosecutors
¶5. (U) On June 24, per ref a, the DoJ assigned 10 new
prosecutors to handle TIP cases. These prosecutors were
slated to join the initial four prosecutors that the GRP’s
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) assigned
to TIP cases in late 2O04
. According to the DoJ, the 10
newly-named TIP prosecutors are already handling
preliminary invcstigations into a handful of TIP cases
nationwide. For cases filed within Metro Manila, the new
prosecutors will push forward from investigation to trial.
For cases filed outsidc of Metro Manila, the new
prosecutors will conduct preliminary investigations then,
if there is evidence of a crime, turn over the case to a
local prosecutor to pursue through trial. Mission
continues to hear that DoJ is also tasking all 14
prosecutors with non-TIP related cases, in addition to
their anti-trafficking duties. Thus, none of them are
totally dedicated to TIP cases.

¶6. (U) The DoJ will hold a TIP prosecutors’ conference
(supported by USAID’s Rule of Law Effectiveness Project) in
Manila on August 3. Mission will send a representative to
the conference in order to learn more about the GRP’s anti-
TIP prosecutorial efforts.

Anti-TIP Agreement

¶7. (U) In other news, the League of Municipalities of the
Philippines, a key national forum for local bodies, signed
a first-of-its-kind anti-TIP Memorandum of Agreement on
July 21 with the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), an anti-
TIP NGO, and Aboitiz Transport System Corporation, one of
the country’s largest shipping companies. The agreement
paves the way for municipalities to work in the following
directions, with the technical support of VFF and Aboitiz:

— towards the creation of local inter-agency councils and
local task forces against trafficking;

— towards the enactment of local legislation to prevent
and suppress TIP;

— towards the provision of basic services for the
prevention, protection and support to victims of
trafficking and their families; and,
— towards information dissemination on TIP at the
community level and promotion of best practices against

(Note: The participation of a major shipping company in
this agreement is potentially significant because a large
proportion of Philippine TIP victims are trafficked
internally via inter-island passenger ferries, primarily
from impoverished areas in the Visayas and Mindanao to
Metro Manila and elsewhere. End Note.)


¶8. (SBU) As reviewed above, the GRP — aided by IJM —
continues to try to achieve its first conviction under the
terms of the anti-TIP law. Such a result remains elusive,
however. The new prosecutors designated by the DoJ will
hopefully make progress on TIP cases. In large part,
however, the problem remains with the Philippine judiciary,
which is notoriously slow and ineffective. The prevalence
of non-contiguous trials, for example, delays cases and
allows defendants and their associates to place pressure on
witnesses, as seems to have happened in the Tongco case
reviewed above. The news of the agreement among
municipalities, VFF and Aboitiz is very positive, and
should assist in TIP prevention, and victim identification
and support.




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