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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

US State Department notes DFA's accomplishments vs trafficking in persons

Philippines keeps Tier 1 in 2021 State Department report on Trafficking

MANILA – The Philippines maintained its Tier 1 status in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report from the United States Department of State released yesterday in Washington.

“Maintaining our Tier 1 status validates the whole-of-government efforts of the DFA and other IACAT member agencies as well as affirms the procedures in place in support of interagency coordination towards the provision of appropriate and timely services to our compatriots who are victims of trafficking,” said Undersecretary Sarah Lou Ysmael Arriola.

The report said the Philippine government “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” and that it demonstrates “serious and sustained efforts” during the reporting period. The report also noted the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the government’s anti-trafficking capacity but still managed to sustain efforts and remain on Tier 1.

The US State Department recognized the prosecution of more trafficking that the earlier reporting period, the increase in the number of prosecutors assigned to the anti-trafficking task forces as well as the number of staff to its anti-trafficking coordinating body, as well as the opening of a specialized shelter and one-stop service center in Manila. The government has also provided assistance to over 1,000 victims.

The State Department also noted the appropriation of US$20.76 million or P1 billion for its Assistance to Nationals Fund (ATN) used for airfare, meal allowance, shelter and medical care and other requirements of distressed overseas Filipino workers.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the State Department also cited the assistance to some 2,575 potential victims of human trafficking last year where a decrease from 3,581 human trafficking victims and 4,479 illegal recruitment victims in 2019. The DFA was also credited for its repatriation of 327,511 Filipino workers who lost their work or had not been paid their wages due to the pandemic.

“Proof of our commitment to combat TOP is our action in Syria. Maintaining our Tier 1 status in this report somehow tells us that we are on the right track and we are in the right,” Undersecretary Arriola said.

Last February, 34 trafficking victims staying at the Philippine Embassy shelter were repatriated from Syria. The shelter in Syria no longer has temporary residents as all its “residents” have been repatriated as of last month.

The DFA has also provided P10,000 reintegration assistance to every displaced Filipino worker upon arrival. (Melo M. Acuña)

US Secretary of State Antony John Blinken (left) delivering his remarks on the release of the State Department's 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report yesterday. Other photos show DFA personnel meeting repatriated Filipino workers. (US State Department Photo/DFA Photos/Melo M. Acuna)

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