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Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar hailed the country’s unsung heroes in the long-drawn crusade against ‘modern day slavery’ or human trafficking as the United State Department of State (USDS) maintained its’ tier 2 (T2) ranking for the Philippines in the worldwide human trafficking index.

Salazar, also the undersecretary in charge of IACAT, credited the government’s various agencies in the forefront of the battle to erase human trafficking, as well as, the ever vigilant non- governmental organizations (NGOs), whose dogged determination and unselfish efforts to support the government in its’ campaign, made for the credible showing of the country in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report of the USDS.

“To the men and women of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) tirelessly guarding our international exit ports, the brave enforcement personnel from the National Bureau of Immigration (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the ever diligent prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service, the hard working social workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the very cooperative people from the Department of Foreign affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) and the other important government instrumentalities, and our NGO partners, the T2 rating we got is a collective effort, and everybody must be lauded for their vital contributions, but tier 2 is also a reminder that we are not yet at tier 1 (T1) so I am exhorting each and every one to cooperate even more and to work even harder to achieving T1,” Salazar urged.

“Our efforts, though, should be borne out of our intense desire to protect our citizens’ from the clutches of human trafficking and extend help and support to those already victimized…the USDS rating becomes merely incidental as we show the world that in the Philippines we respect human pride and dignity and that we are very serious in our campaign to eradicate the evils of human trafficking,” Salazar added.   

Salazar also added that the gains cited by the US State Department Report highlight the effectiveness of the framework established by the government to respond to the unconventional Philippine setting in battling the global problem of human trafficking.

“Through IACAT and with the help of its partner agencies as well as like-minded non-government organizations and private entities, we were able to form a formidable and united front against human trafficking,” Undersecretary Salazar said.

A (T2) ranking means the country does not yet satisfy the minimum standards in the elimination of human trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. Among the significant gains mentioned in the TIP report for the Philippines are; the increase in funding for the anti human trafficking campaign from a mere $230 thousand to $1.5 million, continued prosecution and conviction of offenders, and the implementation of a new program to protect and rehabilitate victims. Trafficking-related corruption efforts leading to the filing of cases against several government officials were also extolled.

The Philippine TIP narrative also mentioned notable efforts in the training of public officials involved in the anti-human trafficking campaign and negotiating bilateral agreements to protect workers employed abroad.

Together with the Philippines in T2 are Asean countries like Cambodia, Singapore Vietnam, Laos etc., while Malaysia and Thailand are under T2 watchlist.