Legarda Committee Prioritizes Human Trafficking Probe

August 7, 2010

“The Philippines has been recognized as a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. ”
Legarda said the different forms of trafficking are:
(1) Sex Trafficking – Victims of sex trafficking are often found in the streets or working in establishments that offer commercial sex acts, i.e. brothels, strip clubs, pornography production houses. Such establishments may operate under the guise of:
· Massage parlors
· Escort services
· Adult bookstores
· Modeling studios
· Bars/strip clubs
(2) Labor Trafficking – People forced into indentured servitude can be found in:
· Sweatshops (where abusive labor standards are present)
· Commercial agricultural situations (fields, processing plants, canneries)
· Domestic situations (maids, nannies)
· Construction sites (particularly if public access is denied)
· Restaurant and custodial work.
“Officials from the Department of Foreign Relations, Bureau of Immigration and the National Bureau of Investigation will be invited to testify in the Senate to update the committee on their efforts against suspected local and international human trafficking syndicates and the technical cooperation they are involved into with other countries.
“I intend to review the preventive and punitive actions our government law enforcement agencies are imposing with the end in view of recommending an increase in the penalty for the crime.”
Legarda cited the following visible indicators of human trafficking:
1.Heavy security at the commercial establishment including barred windows, locked doors, isolated location, electronic surveillance. Women are never seen leaving the premises unless escorted
2.Victims live at the same premises as the brothel or work site or are driven between quarters and “work” by a guard. For labor trafficking, victims are often prohibited from leaving the work site, which may look like a guarded compound from the outside.
3.Victims are kept under surveillance when taken to a doctor, hospital or clinic for treatment; trafficker may act as a translator.
4.High foot traffic especially for brothels where there may be trafficked women indicated often by a stream of men arriving and leaving the premises.
“Trafficking victims are kept in bondage through a combination of fear, intimidation, abuse, and psychological controls.”
“While each victim will have a different experience, they share common threads that may signify a life of indentured servitude.”
“Poverty and lack of economic opportunity make women and children potential victims of traffickers associated with international criminal organizations. They are vulnerable to false promises of job opportunities in other countries.”
“Many of those who accept these offers from what appear to be legitimate sources find themselves in situations where their documents are destroyed, their selves or their families threatened with harm, or they are bonded by a debt that they have no chance of repaying. ”
Legarda said human trafficking of our kababayans for labor and sexual exploitation are predominant in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, North America, and Europe.
“There is also the internal trafficking of women and children from rural areas, particularly the Visayas and Mindanao to urban areas, such as Metro Manila and Cebu, for sexual exploitation or forced labor as domestic workers, factory workers, or as participants in the drug trade. This social malaise will also be discussed by the committee.”
Legarda concluded, “The committee will also invite officials from the Philippine National Police and the Justice Department because it is also important that the police, prosecutors, and courts ensure that their efforts to punish traffickers are implemented within a system that is quick and respects and safeguards the rights of the victims to privacy, dignity, and safety.”