The number of convicted suspects for human trafficking of Filipinos increased in 2018, an official of the Department of Justice said at the 5th Manila International Dialogue on Human Trafficking on Thursday.
Data from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking showed that 119 cases of human trafficking resulted in conviction in 2018, putting into justice 95 perpetrators.
This was a significant increase from the 61 cases that ended up with convictions in 2017.
“We have attained the highest conviction rate in the history of our Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act... It was a 95 percent increase from the 2017 data,” Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said.
Villar attributed the all-time high record to the improved evidence-collection processes and systems of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
“Mas maingat na sila sa pagkolekta ng ebidensiya, they are trained to look at what needs to be collected so that they won’t need a testimony of a witness in order to secure a conviction,” Villar said.
She said that technology transfers and best practices from international partners contributed a lot in training law enforcers on handling trafficking cases.
For 2019, the number of successfully prosecuted cases is at 48 as of October.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said human trafficking also occurred domestically even if it was considered a transnational crime that crossed countries' borders.
“Domestic trafficking occurs as well. This is certainly the case in the Philippines where our archipelagic geography is a challenge in terms of border protection and control,” Guevarra said in his keynote speech.
“Formal and informal seaports are being used with impunity to traffic victims from one place to another without necessarily crossing international borders,” he added.
He said some victims from the provinces were exploited in cities.
Guevarra said poverty, a lack of education, and unemployment increase the vulnerabilities of the people to sexual and labor exploitation.
He urged for further review of the existing legislation as well as strengthening the engagement of the local government units, private sector, and the technology industry to eradicate human trafficking which he described as a form of “modern-day slavery.” —NB, GMA News