CHILD sex trafficking remains a serious problem in the Philippines because it occurs in private residences and facilitated by taxi drivers who know of clandestine locations, the US Department of State said.
In its 2014 US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released recently, the State Department also noted that Filipino children who fall victims to this illegal activity are getting younger and that more boys are being recruited.
“The Philippines is a source country and, to a much lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. A significant number of the 10 million men, women and children who migrate abroad for skilled and unskilled work are subsequently subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor,” the report stated.
The report was released a few days before Australian national Peter James Robinson was arrested in Cordova town last Tuesday for allegedly engaging in child pornography.
The TIP report said child sex tourists include citizens from Australia, New Zealand, and countries in northeast Asia, Europe, and North America.
On a three-tier scale, the TIP ranks the Philippines a Tier II for its anti-trafficking efforts, the same ranking it got for the past four years.
The Philippine Government, the report says, “does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” It also said that efforts to address the problem are undermined by corruption.
Despite this, the State Department lauded the Philippine government for making significant efforts to comply with these standards, which include prohibiting severe forms of human trafficking and punishing these acts.
Given these findings, the International Justice Mission (IJM) said it is important for the government to step up efforts to make sure that traffickers are held criminally liable and prosecuted.
“Only when laws are strictly enforced and the justice system delivers those who are liable can we prevent and eradicate forced labor and the sex trafficking of men, women and children,” said IJM Manila Field Office Director Sam Inocencio.
Concurring with the report’s recommendation, Inocencio said the government should put in more people—from law enforcement to prosecution—to focus on the problem and ensure more convictions. In 2013, 31 sex traffickers were convicted.
Inocencio also said that as recommended in the report, the government should provide adequate assistance to the victims and make these available through temporary shelters.
“These should offer victims a secure environment where they can recover after a rescue operation, and must have a specific space to shelter males who also require specialized care,” he said.
The TIP Report is a diplomatic tool in global anti-trafficking efforts, encouraging countries to address the problem or else, they would jeopardize US foreign aid.
Meanwhile, Cordova policemen are now identifying the adults shown in photos stored in Robinson’s USB.
There is no official confirmation yet but it is believed that the adults are the parents of the 15 minors Robinson had recruited for his activities.
Parents who sell their children for sex may be held criminally liable.
But Dr. Rene Obra, head of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center’s Center for Behavioral Sciences, said in a radio report that these parents may be victims of abuse themselves in the past.
Obra, a psychiatrist, also said the need for money is another reason these parents sell their children to sex preys.
Mothers who work for nightclubs, he said, may also think that it is fine to involve their children in prostitution or pornography because they are doing it themselves.