U.S.-Philippines High-Level Dialogues Mark Progress in Combating Child Trafficking

Manila, November 20, 2019 — Senior U.S. and Philippine officials conducted high-level dialogues in Manila and Cebu this week to mark progress in efforts to prosecute and convict child traffickers and provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for child victims of online child sexual exploitation (OSEC).  The dialogues also focused on the progress made in the Philippines to educate communities on how to identify and prevent OSEC and child labor trafficking from occurring.

The dialogues represent the ongoing commitment of the two nations to achieving the objectives of the four-year U.S.-Philippines Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership signed in 2017.

The United States delegation was led by United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Cotton Richmond, who provided the keynote address on behalf of the United States during the dialogue in Manila and Cebu. Philippine Department of Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, Co-chair of the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), provided keynote remarks on behalf of the Philippines.

In Cebu, Assistant Secretary-in-Charge of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) George O. Ortha II provided the opening remarks while IACAT Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar provided the keynote address on behalf of the Philippines.

In acknowledgment of the joint efforts made by the United States and the Philippines under the CPC partnership, Ambassador Richmond stated

“The scale of the crime of human trafficking demands increasing resources everywhere.  Our governments’ commitment to justice is the foundation of our partnership and our combined investments totaling $5.1 million reflects the strength and impact of our work for all to be free.”

In his remarks, Secretary Guevarra noted that “Since the first High Level Dialogue held last year, the Philippine government lost no time in ensuring that all its efforts are sustained and scaled up, signifying the firm commitment to the noble objectives set forth in the Child Protection Compact.  With our combined efforts, we can all look forward to a world where every child is safe and protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation.”

The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons committed Php215 million ($4.3 million) and the Philippine Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons approximately Php40 million ($800,000) to meet these objectives.  Programming is implemented by partner organizations International Justice Mission and the Salvation Army, and representatives from both organizations, as well as Philippine government officials with the primary responsibility of investigating and prosecuting child trafficking cases and providing witness and victim protection, participated in the dialogues.