(Manila) The Aquino administration made clear yesterday its desire to have the Philippines removed from the United States watchlist on human trafficking.
According to the Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State, the Philippines is currently classified as being under the ‘Tier 2 Watchlist’ which includes ‘countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.’
The announcement was met with sighs of relief from both the Bureau of Immigration and the National Association of Slavers, Illegal Recruiters, and Brothel Owners (NASIRBO).
“We were worried that the government might actually be concerned with the welfare of the products we procure because that would be a lose-lose scenario. We lose business and the government loses our bribe money,” said NASIRBO president Rocco Pinalakpak “But if it’s just a matter of getting of that list we can work together to make it happen.”
Earlier this week, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. intimated that failure to get off the list by the end of the year will mean an end to US aid. Observers have been critical of the sudden interest of the administration in a problem long-ignored:
“Nothing makes a Philippine president jump like the prospect of losing American aid,” said Renato Constantino, a long dead Philippine historian who did not really say what we just claimed he said.
When asked for his recommendations regarding the issue, Thomas Jr. pointed out that convictions may be the most concrete indicator for improvement:
“Clearly, the most important thing is how many convictions you have, so we’ll see,” The US ambassador said last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NASIRBO outlined two proposals for the Aquino administration to consider on their official site:
1. Fund NASIRBO to coordinate all human trafficking activities in the Philippines so it can be regulated and hidden better.
2. Add human trafficking related charges against all defendants no matter what their actual crimes may be.
“Our solutions are simple and win-win,” commented Pinalakpak, “if we hide our operations better and if the administration can make more convictions we will get off that list together. We make money. The officials we bribe make money. Everybody is happy.”