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Loren: Conviction Rate in Illegal Recruitment Shows RP Serious in Fight VS. Human Trafficking

September 3, 2010

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA, CHAIR OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, URGED THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO CREATE CHANNELS TO IMPROVE OUR RANKINGS BY THE UNITED STATES IN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING PERFORMANCE, ASSERTING THAT OUR HIGH CONVICTION RATES ON ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT MUST OFFSET OUR LOW CONVICTIONS UNDER THE ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ACT FOR PURPOSES OF MAKING THE PHILIPPINES ELIGIBLE FOR FOREIGN ASSISTANCE.
“Many of our prosecutors charge traffickers with the crime of illegal recruitment rather than trafficking. If this reflects a bias in the strategy in pursuing cases, it should not be taken as a lack of sincerity in convicting human traffickers,” Legarda said.
The US Trafficking in Persons Report has placed the Philippines on “Tier 2 Watchlist” since 2009, citing its low performance in prosecution and conviction. If the status is not improved, the Philippines will instead be ranked Tier 3 for 2011.
A downgrade to Tier 3, under US law, will subject the Philippines to certain sanctions which might include withholding of a grant of $434 million from the US Millennium Challenge Account which Pres. Noynoy Aquino is set to formally accept in his US trip in September, and all non-humanitarian, non-trade related foreign assistance, and elimination of educational and cultural exchange programs for government officials.
“Unless we show an increase in the number of convictions, the danger of our downgrade from Tier 2 Watchlist to Tier 3 will be disastrous not only to our women and children, but to our infrastructure and social development programs, ” Legarda concluded.