Press Release
September 5, 2008

Jinggoy calls on RP, Singapore officials to jointly combat human trafficking

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today aired calls on officials of both the Philippines and Singapore to wage a strong, joint campaign against human trafficking and crush syndicates victimizing workers, especially Filipinos.

"Several of our poor countrymen have already been victimized, and their lives ruined, by human trafficking. We must once and for all decisively move to eradicate this social menace now," Estrada, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said.

The senator noted reports that more and more Filipino women are getting lured by human trafficking syndicates to Singapore, promised with jobs as pub or restaurant attendants but are instead forced into prostitution and slave-like work.

In 2007, the Philippine embassy in Singapore said there were 212 cases of human trafficking involving Filipinas, up from 125 in 2006 and from 59 cases in 2005. Of the 212, about 27 percent (57) of the women victims admitted to having engaged in prostitution or said they were coerced into sexual acts.

Filipino Consul Neal Imperial was quoted as saying that the numbers could only be the "tip of the iceberg" as they reflected only women who turned to the embassy for help.

According to reports, the sex industry in Singapore is dominated by women from the Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam.

The US State Department, in its 2008 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, put Singapore on its list of countries not doing enough to combat the problem, along with Cambodia and Sierra Leone.

The 2007 TIP report, on the other hand, particularly called the attention of the Philippine government for the country's being a source and destination for human trafficking, and for being on the Tier 2 list of countries that failed to comply fully with international anti-human trafficking laws, even with the "minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000."

To effectively combat human trafficking, Estrada recommended the following measures which government officials from both the Philippines and Singapore must undertake, namely: 1. Carry out a pro-active public awareness campaign on human trafficking and how to fight it; 2. Create a body or task force for the arrest and prosecution of violators; and, 3. Devise an efficient, special procedure for speedy, no-nonsense prosecution and punishment of those involved in the illegal trade.

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