The US government has listed the Philippines in Tier 1 status for complying with international standards to combat human trafficking.
But the country failed to “consistently criminally prosecute labor traffickers, or increase the availability of specialized protection and assistance services for child victims of sex trafficking or services for male victims.”
Access to mental health services, employment training, and job placement for survivors also remained inadequate, the report said.
The Philippines has maintained its Tier 1 rank for four consecutive years and narrowly escaped sanctions that include the withholding of millions of dollars in American aid after the US removed the Philippines from a trafficking blacklist three years ago.
“We are heartened by the fact that the US government continues to recognize our country’s resolute anti-trafficking in persons effort,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a statement from Washington.
The report was released by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday.
For several years, the Philippines had been in a dreaded watchlist and it would have ended in a more severe blacklist had it not taken drastic measures to address the problem during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“The government of the Philippines fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” the State Department report said. The US agency is mandated by the US Congress under Public Law 106-386 or the “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of the year 2000” identifies minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking applicable to the government of a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims of severe forms of trafficking.
There are four tier placements in the annual US report: Tier 1 (full compliance), Tier 2 (no full compliance but making significant efforts to comply with standards), Tier 2 Watchlist (no full compliance and absolute number of victims increasing), and Tier 3 (no full compliance, no significant efforts to comply).