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16 March 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Acting Secretary of Justice Emmanuel L. Caparas underscored the strides being made by the Philippine Government’s resolute campaign against trafficking in persons (TIP) during their meetings with high-level officials of the US Department of State today, 16 March.

The Department of State is mandated to issue the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which is the US Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking, and to target resources on prevention, protection and prosecution programs.

In the TIP Report, the Department of State divides foreign governments into tiers based on their perceived efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking. A Tier 1 ranking signifies full compliance with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” as defined in US domestic legislation, while Tier 3 indicates non-compliance and no significant efforts towards compliance.

Tier 2 is labeled on countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The Philippines has maintained a Tier 2 ranking since 2011.

“The State Department’s TIP reports have been helpful in our efforts to prevent trafficking, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. The Philippine Government and its stakeholders continue to take the TIP report very seriously,” Ambassador Cuisia assured Susan Coppedge, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State.

“The decrease in the number of recommended actions for the Philippines from 13 in 2014 to only nine in 2015 proves that we are making inroads in the fight against human trafficking. A Tier 1 ranking is definitely within reach,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

Secretary Caparas, whose Department co-chairs the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), apprised Ambassador Coppedge of developments in the investigation and prosecution of TIP and related cases.

“This dialogue with the US State Department is critical as it manifests the cooperative and collaborative approach required to address a transnational challenge. To end the scourge of human trafficking, a constant exchange of views and best practices between and among countries is necessary,” the Secretary said.

Ambassador Coppedge acknowledged the diligence of the Philippines in combating TIP, considering the large number of overseas Filipinos. She described the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA’s) Regional Anti-TIP Workshops as a “good model” to enhance the protection of citizens who are outside national borders. Ambassador Coppedge observed that the Philippines is “on the right path” and gave positive remarks in reference to the country’s reporting of TIP cases.

In discussions with State Counselor and former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, Ambassador Cuisia and Secretary Caparas also highlighted the Philippines’ leadership in addressing TIP in the region, particularly by shepherding the negotiation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP), Especially Women and Children and Its Accompanying Plan of Action (APA).

After more than eight years of negotiations, the ACTIP and APA were finally adopted and signed, respectively, during the 2th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 2015. ###

16 March 2016

L-R: Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Philippine Acting Secretary of Justice Emmanuel L. Caparas and US Department of State Counselor Kristie Kenney. (Photo taken on 16 March 2016 in Washington, D.C)