05 December 2023
Embassy Press and Information Section
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Embassy of the Philippines, in collaboration with the Embassy’s Migrant Workers Office and the International Pro-Bono Alliance, Inc. (iBPA), successfully organized a webinar focusing on Human Trafficking on November 29, 2023. The webinar is the second installment of a four-part webinar series dedicated to addressing pressing issues affecting Filipinos abroad.
In his opening remarks, Consul General Iric Arribas reiterated the commitment of the Philippine government to ensuring that overseas migration takes place in a secure, orderly, and regulated manner. Despite these efforts, instances persist where Filipinos are unfortunately victimized by unscrupulous elements targeting vulnerable job seekers.
“The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., alongside its Migrant Workers Office, is dedicated to ensuring that you are well-informed about the laws and regulations governing labor deployment. While everyone has the right to seek economic improvement globally, our collective goal is to make your experience abroad both pleasant and meaningful — for your well-being and that of your families,” he said.
Atty. Purificacion Bartolome-Bernabe, President of iPBA, elucidated on the intricate elements of human trafficking as outlined in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons — the primary legal instrument globally dedicated to combating human trafficking. Emphasizing the Philippines’ commitment as a signatory to this protocol, she detailed the enactment of anti-trafficking laws, including the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, which now extends liability to internet and financial intermediaries. Atty. Bartolome-Bernabe also underscored the vital role of the Philippines’ Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) as a collaborative body working towards the eradication of human trafficking.
Atty. Cristina Godinez, a New York-based advocate on US migrant rights, provided insights into notable trends in human trafficking, particularly in the post-pandemic landscape. She delved into the three-pronged framework of US laws on trafficking, covering the prosecution of traffickers, protection of trafficking victims, and prevention of human trafficking. Her presentation also offered a comprehensive examination of immigration relief mechanisms available for victims of human trafficking in the United States.
The subsequent open forum facilitated a dynamic exchange of information and experiences related to various forms of trafficking in both the US and the Caribbean.
Labor Attaché Saul T. De Vries concluded the seminar by sharing a significant acknowledgment: the Philippines consistently maintains Tier 1 status in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report — the highest ranking awarded to countries meeting minimum standards against human trafficking. However, he acknowledged the unfortunate reality that the commercialization of human beings continues to impact unsuspecting migrant workers. Labor Attaché De Vries expressed the hope for an increased number of individuals taking lawful actions against this crime as awareness grows among Filipinos.
The webinar served as an essential platform for understanding the evolving legal frameworks in both the Philippines and the United States aimed at addressing this complex and urgent problem of trafficking. Many of the participants in the webinar were Filipino community leaders in the US Mainland and the Caribbean.###