US, PH conclude 4-year partnership vs child trafficking and exploitation

Published April 29, 2021, 2:31 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The four-year partnership between the United States and the Philippines to combat online sexual exploitation and child labor trafficking has resulted in the arrests of 97 perpetrators and successful identification of 312 victims, a joint US and Philippines report said Thursday, April 29.

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (Manila Bulletin)

This surfaced during the virtual concluding ceremony of the US-Philippines Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership where officials from both sides conducted final dialogue to mark accomplishments of the partnership that began in 2017.

During the dialogue, both recognized the progress made over the last four years towards achieving the CPC’s objectives of improving the government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), identify and respond to child labor trafficking, provide comprehensive services to protect child trafficking victims, and prevent future human trafficking crimes.

Philippine government officials and civil society leaders who attended the meeting committed to carry forward and build on the accomplishments achieved under the partnership and to continue combatting all forms of child trafficking.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra noted that through the CPC, the Philippine government has been able to carve out a “more targeted and focused response” to OSEC by identifying key objectives and adjusting critical resources to address priority responses in the prevention and prosecution of such cases as well as the protection of victim-survivors.

US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office)Acting Director Dr. Kari Johnstone (US Department of State)

On the part of the US partners, Acting Director Dr. Kari Johnstone of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) said, “Today we celebrate the tremendous work accomplished under the Child Protection Compact Partnership over the last four years and look ahead towards new initiatives to sustain the improved capacity of both the Government of the Philippines and civil society organizations achieved under this partnership.”

Jointly developed and implemented, the CPC partnership strengthened the capacity of the Philippine government and civil society to address online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking in the Philippines, specifically improving their ability to prosecute and convict child traffickers, provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victims, and prevent these crimes from occurring.

The TIP Office committed P237 million ($4.9 million) and the Philippine DOJ’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) pledged approximately P44.6 million ($921,760) to meet its objectives. Programming was implemented by partner organizations International Justice Mission and The Salvation Army.

Aside from the successful identification of the 312 child victims of online sexual exploitation and the arrests of 97 perpetrators of trafficking crimes, The Salvation Army, for its part, trained more than 355 social workers on victim-centered care and directly supported 44 survivors in aftercare facilities.

“Our strong partnership with the Philippine government and civil society organizations has built a solid foundation reflected in various efforts aimed at eliminating all forms of exploitation against children. I remain confident that this Partnership will become even more effective at combating many forms of abuse against of children in the years to come,” US Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires John Law said.