Prevalence

There are an estimated 261,200 people in modern slavery in Philippines – this is equivalent to 0.2655% of the entire population

Modern slavery exists in the Philippines in all its forms, however the issue of forced labour for Filipinos working abroad is a significant concern.1 The most recent survey on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) by the Philippine Statistics Authority suggests that one in every two Filipino women working abroad are unskilled, and employed as domestic workers, cleaners, or in the service sector.2 These sectors represent some of the highest industry risks for modern slavery. As such, Filipino women are often subject to forced labour, have no access to their passport, limited – if any – rights, and experience sexual and physical abuse by employer.3 Filipino workers are also vulnerable to forced labour and involuntary servitude in the sex industry throughout Asia and the Middle East. 4

Products known to be produced using modern slavery 5

SugarTuna

Of particular concern is the trafficking of women under the guise of marriage for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.6 The United Nations estimates that 100,000 children in the Philippines are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation each year,7 with many cases linked to organised crime groups.8 Filipino men are also subject to forced labour abroad, with many working in the construction industry, seafaring and maritime work, agriculture and manufacturing.9 In 2013, young Filipino boxers were allegedly trafficked into Australia on sporting visas, where they were held in a debt bondage situation and forced to work in unpaid domestic labour.10

Despite tensions easing in the Mindanao region following a peace deal agreement between the Philippine Government and Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front in May 2014,11 South Mindanao remains volatile. Emerging factional conflict among breakaway gangs, Islamic militants and feuding clans threaten the newly established peace, and present a risk for children being recruited in armed political groups.12 Children are reportedly used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as guides and informants, and are engaged in actual armed conflict in groups like the New People’s Army, insurgent group Abu Sayyaf, and the and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.13

Forced and child labour exists in the agricultural sector within the Philippines, including in tobacco fields,14 banana plantations,15 and sugarcane crops.16 Children living in tobacco growing regions often work alongside their families to harvest and package tobacco leaves for export. Children as young as 12 years old were identified in the sector, with many working more than 43 hours per week, exposing them to dangerous levels of nicotine, and other hazardous farming chemicals.17 Pa-Aling Fishermen are subject to forced labour and exploitation at sea. The Pa-Aling fisherman face similar conditions to fisherman in Thailand and Malaysia, but these fishermen dive deep into the ocean with nothing but compressors in order to scare fish out of coral reef. They are often forced into these situations and lack legal protection.18

Government response

ScoreSurvivors are supportedCriminal justiceCoordination and accountabilityAttitudes, social systems and institutionsBusiness and government
BB61.171.458.356.30

The Philippine Government addressed some recommendations made in the 2013 Global Slavery Index, and as a result continued to be regional leader in victim support and protection, particularly for OFWs.

In 2013, the Philippine Government increased protection for nationals working abroad through the establishment of 15 multi-agency Filipino workers’ resource centres to assist workers in 36 countries with populations of 20,000 or more Filipino workers.19 Filipino emigrants are required to register with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, and part of that registration includes participation in the Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS),20 which is now available online.21 Information collected during the registration process is then used to inform policy and program development.22 Despite these efforts, the Batas Kasambahaya, which is the national legal instrument aligning laws with the Domestic Workers Convention (ILO 198), the government still faces challenges in implementing protections.23

Following reports of abuse of Filipino workers in the Gulf States, the Philippine Government introduced a raft of innovative measures to ensure domestic workers were protected. This includes standardised employment contracts that require pre-deployment verification by the Philippine Labour Office and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a minimum monthly wage of $400 and holidays among other measures.24 Victim support and protection for both Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad are largely coordinated by the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT), which primarily focuses on recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims back into society.25 Government funding for this body and their initiatives was increased in 2014 to US$2.4 million.26

In addition to victim support and protection, the Government continued its efforts to implement the 2012-2016 National Strategic Plan on Trafficking in Persons27 Law enforcement efforts increased from 2013 to 2014, with the Government securing 31 sex trafficking convictions, two of which are from Pampanga, a province known to be a trafficking hot-spot.28 There were no convictions for labour trafficking and reports suggest the Government efforts to investigate and prosecute claims of sexual abuse and trafficking against officials in overseas Embassies has been limited.29 In one case, an Embassy official in Kuwait allegedly pressured an OFW to provide sex in return for her flight home, as well as removing another OFW from a shelter and putting her back into employment where she was sexually abused by her employer. Investigations are reportedly ongoing.30

The Philippines has made progress addressing issues of children in armed conflict, including drafting child protection legislation31  and military guidelines that prevent the use of schools. 32 Despite these measures, continuing factional violence threatens to undermine efforts.

Vulnerability

Slavery policyHuman rightsState stabilityDiscriminationDevelopment
36.441.452.559.445.6

Situated on an active typhoon belt and on the cuff of shifting tectonic plates, the Philippines is a hotspot for natural disasters.33 In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan affected 3.2 million people, displaced 348,507 people, and destroyed homes, hospitals and public infrastructure.34 Reports suggest that the typhoon directly contributed to least two trafficking investigations.35

Despite this geographic vulnerability, the Philippines has benefitted from a rapidly expanding economy, with experts speculating it will emerge as a new ‘Tiger economy’.36 However, even with the implementation of progressive social protection schemes, steep wealth disparity and limited employment opportunities lead many Filipino workers to find employment overseas, particularly in the Gulf countries, parts of Asia and the Middle East.37 This is largely related to private sector improvements, with many still citing a highly corrupt judicial system.38

The systemic corruption evident at all levels of the Philippine government also contributes to the risk of modern slavery.39 However, positive progress in the fight against corruption is emerging – in 2013, Transparency International ranked the Philippines 94th out of 177 countries for perceptions of corruption levels,40 which was an improvement from previous ranking of 105th out of 175 countries.41

Recommendations

Government

  • Increase efforts to effectively implement the expanded anti-trafficking law at the local level, including better cooperation of key Government agencies to provide education, undertake awareness raising and support prosecutions.
  • Immediately push the Draft Bill – Special Protection of Children in Situation of Armed Conflict Act 2011 – through the senate and take required steps to implement the legislative protections for children
  • Continue to monitor and respond to the use of children in armed conflict.
  • Undertake information campaigns to ensure the public know how to identify and report cases of modern slavery.
  • Upscale law enforcement efforts to prosecute all forms of modern slavery, including those involving Government officials in Embassies.
  • Upscale efforts to ensure that employment conditions of OFWs is monitored and streamlined to ensure access to rights and protection, including establishing the central database to track cases of OFW exploitation.
  • Continue to take steps towards the elimination of corruption, focusing more on corruption in the public and judicial systems.
  • Pass, and implement protections outlined in the recently amended ‘Anti-Mail Order Bride Law’, and ‘Family Code’ to ensure both foreign nationals and Filipino citizens who use marriage for the purposes of sex trafficking, forced commercial sexual exploitation can be prosecuted, and victims have explicit rights to protection and support to exit the situation

Business

  • Businesses with suppliers in high risk industries such as tobacco and sugar cane, should undertake due diligence measures to identify any forced labour in their supply chains.
  • Ensure supply chain traceability through supply chain mapping exercises and communicating with suppliers beyond the first tier.
  • Develop a multi-sector initiative that includes key government departments, international businesses headquartered or with suppliers in the Philippines to respond to, and eradicate forced and child labour in the agricultural sector, particularly in tobacco, banana and sugarcane farming.
  • Pre-empt, and respond to the risk of businesses using forced labour to remain competitive in the increasingly open market by enforcing labour protections and applying sanctions on businesses found to be using forced labour.
Linda, Rosie, Anna, and Maria were recruited to work as domestic helpers in Lebanon. It would be their first international trip. They were taken to Malaysia instead, through the illicit backdoor route from Zamboanga City in Southern Philippines to Sabah in Malaysia. Without their passports, they were made to travel in speedboats from one small island to another until they reached Sabah. Locals fetched them at each destination and dropped them off, where a new handler would be waiting. Their actions were so swift and well-organised that the four did not have much time to ask questions. The women saw many more speedboats on the little islands – also fetching other groups of people – perhaps migrants in similar situations. A man fetched them from their hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, but their van was intercepted by the police and the man turned on them. They were jailed amidst other illegal immigrants, many of whom may have been potential victims of human trafficking and smuggling. Even as the women travelled without their passports to Malaysia because these had been taken by their recruiters in the Philippines, their passports were suddenly with Malaysian immigration officials, with stamps from Sarawak, where they had not been. While they were in jail, the victims received calls from individuals affiliated with their recruiters who instructed them not to reveal any names. Their recruiters eventually managed to persuade the Malaysian jail officials to release them. They were deported from Malaysia and intercepted by the anti-trafficking task force at the airport in Manila. Their recruiters continue to harass them, but the women continue to file charges.
Retold by the Visayan Forum, a Filipino NGO working to eliminate modern-day slavery.

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Footnotes

  1. E.M Capones , “Labor Migration in the Philippines” (Asian Development Bank, 2013), accessed 19/08/14: http://www.adbi.org/files/2013.01.23.cpp.sess1.5.capones.labor.migration.philippines.pdf 
  2. Lisa Grace Bersales, “One in every two female OFWs is an unskilled worker (results from the 2013 SURVEY ON OVERSEAS FILIPINOS)”, (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2013), accessed 19/08/14: http://www.census.gov.ph/content/one-every-two-female-ofws-unskilled-worker-results-2013-survey-overseas-filipinos
  3. Rebeca Falconer, “Qatar’s foreign domestic workers subjected to slave-like conditions”, The Guardian, February 27, 2014: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/qatar-foreign-workers-slave-conditions
  4. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2014), p. 313, accessed 15/08/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210741.pdf
  5. “Sugar”, Verité, last modified unknown, accessed 15/10/14: http://www.verite.org/Commodities/SugarResearch on the Indicators of Forced Labour in the Supply Chains of Tuna in the Philippines, (Verité, 2013), accessed 15/10/14: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2778&context=globaldocs
  6. Jean Enriquez, “The Demand Side of Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in the Philippines: Focus on the Role of Korean Men”, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women- Asia Pacific, n.d. accessed 01/09/14: http://catwap.wordpress.com/resources/speeches-papers/the-demand-side-of-trafficking-and-sexual-exploitation-in-the-philippines-focus-on-the-role-of-korean-men/
  7. Katrina Yu, “The murky world of child sex tourism in the Philippines”, SBS,  26 August, 2013, accessed: 15/8/2014: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2012/02/28/murky-world-child-sex-tourism-philippines
  8. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2014), p. 314, accessed 15/08/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210741.pdf
  9. As above, p. 313
  10. Paul Bibby, “Three charged over alleged trafficking of Filipino boxers”, Sydney Morning Herald, October 10, 2013: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/three-charged-over-alleged-trafficking-of-filipino-boxers-20131010-2vbq7.html
  11. [1] Rosemarie Francisco, Manuel Mogato & Will Dunham, “Philippines, Muslim rebels sign final peace deal to end conflict,” Reuters, March 27, 2014, accessed 15/08/2014: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-philippines-rebels-idUSBREA2Q1W220140327
  12. As above
  13. “Philippines”, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, May 15, 2013, accessed 26/08/14: http://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/countries/philippines/
  14. Dr. Priyo Adi Nugroho, “Child labour in the tobacco cultivation in the ASEAN region”, (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2013), p. 4, accessed 01/09/14: http://www.saveourfarmer.org/site/media/pdf/ChildLaborFinal2013.pdf
  15. The Labour and Environmental Situation in Philippines Banana Plantations Exporting to New Zealand, (Centre for Trade Union and Human Rights Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, 2013), accessed 01/09/14: http://www.oxfam.org.nz/sites/default/files/reports/Conditions%20in%20Philippine%20Banana%20Plantations%20Exporting%20to%20New%20Zealand%20(2).pdf
  16. Anne Trebilcock, Sonja Zweegers, Jenifer de Boer and Joel Orlando Bevilaqua Marin, Sugar Cane and Child Labour: Reality and Perspectives, (Ethical-Sugar, 2011), pp. 15 – 20, accessed 01/09/14: http://www.sucre-ethique.org/IMG/pdf/child_labour_07-2011_2_.pdf
  17. Dr. Priyo Adi Nugroho, Child labour in the tobacco cultivation in the ASEAN region, (Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, 2013), p. 4, accessed 01/09/14: http://www.saveourfarmer.org/site/media/pdf/ChildLaborFinal2013.pdf
  18. Personal Communication. (see also Imra Faith Pal, “Waiting for just wages”, Trafficking Casewatch, February 20, 2014: http://trafficking.verafiles.org/waiting-for-just-wages/)
  19. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2013), p. 303, accessed 15/08/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210741.pdf
  20. “Pre-Departure Registration and Orientation Seminars”, Commission of Filipino Overseas, 2014, accessed 18/07/14: http://www.cfo.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1378%3Apre-departure-registration-and-orientation-seminars&catid=145%3Aintegration-and-reintegration&Itemid=833
  21. Arlene Rivera, “POEA launches online seminar for prospective OWFs”, Online Journal, July 16, 2014, accessed 08/09/14: http://www.journal.com.ph/news/nation/poea-launches-online-seminar-for-prospective-ofws
  22. “Pre-Departure Registration and Orientation Seminars”, (Commission of Filipino Overseas, 2014), accessed 18/07/14: http://www.cfo.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1378%3Apre-departure-registration-and-orientation-seminars&catid=145%3Aintegration-and-reintegration&Itemid=833
  23. Personal communication
  24. Janice Ponce de Leon, “Hiring Filipino maids in UAW just got tougher”, The Gulf News, June 23, 2014, accessed 26/08/14: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/employment/hiring-filipino-maids-in-uae-just-got-tougher-1.1351275
  25. Aileen Marie S. Gutierrez, “PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN THE PHILIPPINES OVERVIEW AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES”, (Task Force on Anti-Trafficking in Persons, n.d), p159, accessed 18/07/14: http://www.unafei.or.jp/english/pdf/RS_No87/No87_13PA_Aileen.pdf
  26. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2014), p. 314, accessed 18/07/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226848.pdf
  27. As above, p. 316
  28. As above
  29. Walden Bello, “The US State Department Slavery Report: Did the Philippines Get the Right Grade?”, The Inquirer.net, June 26, 2014, accessed 01/09/14: http://opinion.inquirer.net/75947/the-us-state-department-slavery-report-did-the-philippines-get-the-right-grade
  30. Mark Meruňas, “Embassy labor officer accused of sex-for-flight in Kuwait rehired”, GMA News Online, May 1, 2014, accessed 01/09/14: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/359202/pinoyabroad/news/embassy-labor-officer-accused-of-sex-for-flight-in-kuwait-rehired
  31. “Philippines: Amend Draft Laws on Child Soldiers”, Human Rights Watch, October 16, 2012, accessed 15/08/14: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/10/16/philippines-amend-draft-law-child-soldiers
  32. “Progress in the Philippines, but Recent Clashes in Mindanao Highlight Challenges for the Peace Process, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, October 25, 2013, accessed 26/08/14: http://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/press-release/progress-in-philippines/
  33. Jessie Wingard and Anne-Sophie Brändlin, “Philippines: A country prone to natural disasters,” Deutsche Welle, November 10, 2013, accessed 15/08/2014: http://dw.de/p/1AF24 
  34. “National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Update”, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, November 3, 2013, accessed 15/08/2014: http://bit.ly/1wYso8z
  35. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines Country Narrative, (United States Department of State, 2014), p. 314, accessed 15/08/14: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226848.pdf
  36. John West, “Philippines: Asia’s New Tiger Eonomy”, (Asian Century Institute, 2014), accessed 19/08/14: http://www.asiancenturyinstitute.com/development/149-philippines-asia-s-new-tiger-economy
  37. Commission on Filipinos Overseas, “Stock Estimate of Overseas Filipinos”, (Office of the President of the Philippines, 2013), accessed 15/08/2014: http://www.cfo.gov.ph/images/stories/pdf/2011_Stock_Estimate_of_Filipinos_Overseas.pdf
  38. James M Roberts, “Reducing corruption will increase economic freedom in The Philippines”, The Heritage Foundation, April 6, 2012, accessed 26/08/14: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/reducing-corruption-will-increase-economic-freedom-in-the-philippines
  39. “Global Slavey Index: Philippines country study”, (Walk Free Foundation, 2013), accessed 15/08/2014: http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/philippines/
  40. “Philippines,” Transparency International, last updated 2013, accessed 15/08/2014: http://www.transparency.org/country/#PHL
  41. “Global Slavey Index: Philippines country study”, (Walk Free Foundation, 2013), accessed 15/08/2014: http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/philippines/

Other reports

Country briefs

View detailed country briefs that describe the nature of problem, government responses, and action needed to address modern slavery in 32 countries.

Country results

View the prevalence, vulnerability and government response data of each country.

Regional profiles

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Survivors are identified, supported to exit and remain out of modern slavery
Criminal justice mechanisms address modern slavery
Coordination and accountability mechanisms for the central government are in place
Attitudes, social systems and institutions that enable modern slavery are addressed
Businesses and governments through their public procurement stop sourcing goods and services that use modern slavery

Government response rating: AAA

Numerical range: 59 to 64

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of AAA are as follows:
The government has an implemented an effective and comprehensive response to all forms of modern slavery, with effective emergency and long-term reintegration victim support services, a strong criminal justice framework, high levels of coordination and collaboration, measures to address all forms of vulnerability, and strong government procurement policies and legislation to ensure that slavery is not present in business supply chains. There is no evidence of criminalisation or deportation of victims.

Government response rating: AA

Numerical range: 53 to 58

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of AA are as follows:
The government has implemented a comprehensive response to most forms of modern slavery, with strong victim support services, a robust criminal justice framework, demonstrated coordination and collaboration, measures to address vulnerability, and government procurement guidelines and/or supply chain policies or legislation to ensure that slavery is not present in business supply chains.

Government response rating: A

Numerical range: 47 to 52

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of A are as follows:
The government has implemented key components of a holistic response to some forms of modern slavery, with strong victim support services, a strong criminal justice framework, demonstrated coordination and collaboration, measures to address vulnerability, and may have taken action to ensure that government procurement policies do not encourage slavery.

Government response rating: BBB

Numerical range: 41 to 46

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of BBB are as follows:
The government has implemented key components of a holistic response to modern slavery, with victim support services, a strong criminal justice response, evidence of coordination and collaboration, and protections in place for vulnerable populations. Governments may be beginning to address slavery in supply chains of government procurement, or of businesses operating within their territory. There may be evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or cause victims to be deported.

Government response rating: BB

Numerical range: 35 to 40

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of BB are as follows:
The government has introduced a response to modern slavery, which includes short term victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, a body to coordinate the response, and protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery.There may be evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or cause victims to be deported, and/or facilitate slavery.

Government response rating: B

Numerical range: 29 to 34

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of B are as follows:
The government has introduced a response to modern slavery, with limited victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, (or has recently amended inadequate legislation and policies), a body or mechanisms that coordinate the response, and has policies that provide some protection for those vulnerable to modern slavery. There is evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or deport victims, and/or facilitate slavery. Services may be provided by International Organisations (IOs)/ NGOs with international funding, sometimes with government monetary or in-kind support.

Government response rating: CCC

Numerical range: 23 to 28

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of CCC are as follows:
The government has a response to modern slavery, with limited victim support services, a criminal justice framework that criminalises some forms of modern slavery, has a national action plan and/or national coordination body, and has policies that provide some protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery. There is evidence that some government policies and practices may criminalise and/or deport victims, and/ or facilitate slavery. Services may be largely provided by IOs/NGOs with international funding, with limited government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: CC

Numerical range: 17 to 22

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of CC are as follows:
The government has a limited response to modern slavery, with largely basic victim support services, a limited criminal justice framework, limited coordination or collaboration mechanism, and few protections for those vulnerable to modern slavery.There may be evidence that some government policies and practices facilitate slavery. Services are largely provided by IOs/NGOs with limited government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: C

Numerical range: 11 to 16

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of C are as follows:
The government response to modern slavery is inadequate, with limited and/or few victim support services, a weak criminal justice framework, weak coordination or collaboration, while little is being done to address vulnerability.There are government practices and policies that facilitate slavery. Services, where available, are largely provided by IOs/NGOs with little government funding or in-kind support.

Government response rating: D

Numerical range: <0 to 10

The general characteristics of a country that has received a rating of D are as follows:
The government has a wholly inadequate response to modern slavery, and/ or there is evidence of government sanctioned modern slavery. However, countries in this category may be experiencing high levels of poverty and internal conflict that may prevent, or hinder a response to modern slavery.