The Bureau of Immigration (BI) hailed the Philippine’s retention of its Tier 1 classification in the US government’s trafficking in persons (TIP) index as the agency vowed to actively pursue its campaign to stop human trafficking in the country’s international ports.
In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente hailed the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report of the US State Department which affirmed that the Philippines fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
“For the sixth year in a row, the Philippines managed to retain its Tier 1 ranking in the annual TIP report. We in the Bureau of Immigration will not waver in our resolve to combat this menace to our society and the world,” Morente said in a statement.
A Tier 1 is the highest ranking, which indicates that a government has made efforts to address the problem of human trafficking, and meets the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. To maintain a Tier 1 ranking, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress each year in combatting trafficking.
The Philippines shares the same ranking as 27 other countries such as Australia, Canada, France, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.
He underscored the important role that the BI performs in the fight against trafficking as immigration officers constitute the last line of defense in preventing the departure of trafficking victims at the ports of exit.
Morente reported that despite the cancellation of many international flights and massive drop in passenger volume last year due to the pandemic, BI officers at the airports still managed to defer the departure of more than 11,700 passengers in 2020, compared to more than 31,200 in 2019.
BI hails PH retention of Tier 1 Status in US trafficking index
The BI chief said members of the Bureau’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) continued to be vigilant in seeing to it that outbound Filipinos comply with the guidelines and requirements for departing travelers.
It was learned that of the passengers whose departures were deferred, 294 were considered as potential human trafficking victims for presenting incomplete and dubious travel documents and misrepresenting the purpose of their overseas travel.
They were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation and filing of charges against their recruiters.
The BI’s Port Operations Division also reported that it stopped 35 foreign registered sex offenders from entering the country last year.
Morente added that they will not tolerate any immigration employee implicated in human trafficking, and will immediately recommend to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the filing of the appropriate administrative cases against them, as they have done so in the past.
“Human trafficking is real, and it is here,” said Morente. “Up until now, despite the pandemic, we intercept numerous cases of human trafficking, including underage workers being trafficked using fraudulently acquired documents, falsified itineraries of workers illegally being sent to war-torn countries, and workers being instructed by their recruiters to pose as tourists. This is an ongoing battle, and we are committed to continue this fight against this societal menace until human trafficking is finally eliminated from our country,” he stated.