MANILA -- The Philippines has still lot of work to do when it comes to eradicating child trafficking in the Philippines, government and civilian observers agreed on Tuesday.
In a press conference in Quezon City, the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) lamented the small conviction rate of traffickers since the inception of the Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act of 2003.
“While we have current legislation, there is still a high number of children continuing to be trafficked, via sexual or labor exploitation. I think there were less than 20 convictions since the RA 9208 was passed, that's very low. It follows also that the prosecution of traffickers is low,” said Ma. Salome Ujano, national coordinator of PACT.
Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development said it has assisted 632 victims of trafficking in persons, illegal recruitment, prostitution, pedophilia, pornography, and child labor in 2009.
Of this number 188 were male minors, 408 were female minors, and 36 were women.
The Philippines is categorized under Tier 2 in the 2009 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.
The category refers to countries that are making “significant efforts to comply with the (Office to Monitor and Trafficking of Persons) OMCTP standards but show no evidence that they increased their efforts compared to the previous year.”
But the government said it is doing "all efforts to curb" trafficking.
“We would like to emphasize that when it comes to protecting our women and children, there have been laws addressing the problem. However, when it comes to regulation, there are many agencies mandated to do so. In DSWD, our regulations deals more on psychosocial services that are provided by the government organizations, non-government organizations,” said Gemma Gabuya, director of DSWD's social technology program.
Meanwhile, the European Union said it will give 3.3 million euros as assistance to the labor department's anti-illegal recruitment and trafficking projects.
“The institutional mechanisms are in place but the country needs moral and financial support,” said Ma. Romina Sta. Clara of the EU-Philippines.
In November last year, the Australian government launched the five-year A$21 million (P800 million) Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons (Artip) Project which aims to strengthen the capability of the Philippine criminal justice system to combat people trafficking. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)