Cablegate: Philippines/Tip: Interim Assessment

Published: Mon 14 Nov 2005 09:01 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. STATE 192352
B. MANILA 4984
C. MANILA 4831
D. MANILA 3500
E. MANILA 1815
1. (U) Summary. In response to Ref A, this message
provides information on the Philippines for the Interim
Assessment on the Special Watch List countries due in
Congress no later than February 1. The Philippine
Department of Justice (DoJ) has trebled the number of
prosecutors at the national level handling TIP cases, and
has assigned additional prosecutors at the regional level to
focus on TIP cases, resulting in a fourfold increase since
November 2004 in prosecutions under the 2003 anti-
trafficking law. No trial case under the 2003 law has yet
resulted in a verdict or conviction, however. One new TIP
case involves a Manila-based police official, who remains in
detention. GRP officials in the national government as well
as local government units have increased awareness of how to
implement the 2003 TIP law as a result of new GRP-funded
programs as well as some USG-funded training initiatives.
The flow of Philippine entertainers traveling to Japan had
fallen by 83 percent as of October 2005. Philippine
authorities have cooperated in four cases so far involving
American citizens under the PROTECT ACT and other sexual
crimes over the past year. End Summary.
Enforcement of Anti-Trafficking Law
2. (U) GRP prosecutors and NGO lawyers continue to make
limited headway in prosecuting human traffickers. As of
November 2005, prosecutors had filed 56 trafficking cases
under the 2003 TIP law (R.A. 9208), up from 10-12 cases
filed by the same time last year. Of these, 36 are in the
trial phase but none has led to a verdict, much less an
actual conviction. According to DoJ authorities, courts in
2005 have convicted some individuals under related laws,
such as child abuse and illegal recruitment, but they were
unable to provide statistics. The Philippine DOJ has
assigned additional prosecutors in Manila to handle TIP
cases, bringing the total number from 4 to 14.
Additionally, approximately 45 prosecutors in regional DoJ
offices are focused on TIP.
3. (U) In October, the Philippine Secretary of Justice and
the Chief State Prosecutor agreed to implement a new policy
in the Philippine DoJ's TIP Prosecution Unit that requires
police and prosecutors to coordinate closely during the
investigative and trial period (ref B).
Prosecution of Government Officials
4. (U) In June 2005, DOJ for the first time charged a
government official with violating R.A. 9208. Police
officer Dennis Reci was arrested for allegedly trafficking
minors to engage in sexual slavery at his nightclub in
Manila (which authorities shut down). He is currently
detained at the Manila City Jail awaiting arraignment.
Additional TIP Training
5. (U) The GRP has strongly promoted training programs for
law enforcement and immigration officials on trafficking
issues and how to deal with victims. The GRP's Inter-Agency
Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) in March
began to offer training to prosecutors and judges from
around the country and plans to complete a manual for law
enforcement personnel and prosecutors on how better to
implement the 2003 anti-trafficking law by December. The
USG-funded "Rule of Law Effectiveness" Project has
separately worked with several government agencies and non-
government organizations to raise awareness of TIP issues
and to strengthen anti-TIP mechanisms at the local level.
Approximately 365 police, prosecutors, immigration
officials, social workers, and local government officials
have received training in the first eleven months of 2005.
Increased Victim Cooperation in Prosecutions
6. (U) In April 2005, the Philippine Secretary of Justice
issued a directive ordering all prosecutors to give
preferential attention to TIP cases and vigorously to oppose
and object to any motions for dismissal due to lack of
testimony by witnesses in TIP cases (ref E) or where the
defendant had made a financial settlement with the victim or
other family members. The directive also instructed
prosecutors to recommend against bail in cases violating
certain sections of the anti-trafficking act. These
directives are included in ongoing training seminars for TIP
7. (U) The GRP's witness protection program, which DOJ
operates, still lacks the budget to accommodate the large
number of TIP victims. The Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF),
a local NGO working against TIP with some USG grants, has
expanded its operations at four government-provided shelters
located in different regions of the country. These shelters
serve as safe houses for TIP victims while they pursue their
cases against traffickers, offering counseling and legal
assistance. Philippine Port Police provide security to
these shelters.
Other Significant Developments
8. (U) Philippine authorities assisted U.S. prosecutors to
set depositions in the criminal case of an American national
accused in November 2004 of sexually abusing eight boys in
the Philippines. A U.S. District Court convicted him under
the PROTECT ACT in June 2005 and ordered him to pay
restitution to his Filipino teenage victims. The funds will
provide for medical, psychological, and occupational therapy
for the youths. The GRP has also cooperated on extradition
and deportation cases involving three Americans charged with
sex crimes in the U.S. so far in 2005.
9. (U) Following the imposition by the Government of Japan
(GoJ) of stricter requirements for entertainer visas in
March, the number of Filipino entertainers traveling to
Japan has fallen dramatically. By October, the number of
"entertainer" visas issued had fallen by 83 percent compared
to the same period in 2004. At the request of the GoJ, the
GRP in May suspended its rule requiring Japanese
entertainment promoters to provide escrow deposits through
the Philippine embassy in Tokyo or consulate in Osaka in
order to cover any claims made by Filipino workers against
Japanese promoters. There had been reports that these
deposits had been subject to corruption.
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