DOJ spox: Marcos wants anti-human trafficking efforts intensified

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered government agencies to boost efforts against human exploitation to keep the Philippines' Tier 1 ranking in the United States anti-human trafficking report, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official said on Saturday.

“In fact, he has given specific instructions to maintain our Tier 1 ranking,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told a news forum.

“That means he will support all the facets and all the programs that the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) has already put in place and he would like to enhance those programs,” he said.

The DOJ is the lead agency of the IACAT.

In its 2022 report, the US Department of State said the Philippines maintained its spot as one of the countries that earned the Tier 1 ranking, but it also noted that being in the highest rank does not mean that there is no human trafficking problem in a country.

RELATED: PH's Tier 1 rank in US anti-human trafficking report a ‘comfort’ for nations who want to hire Filipinos — DMW

The IACAT recently issued the revised guidelines for Filipinos travelering overseas in a bid to combat human trafficking.

It was met with criticism from lawmakers and ordinary Filipinos for being too strict, adding that the new requirements are too burdensome.

The fresh set of departure formalities was made public on Aug. 22, and “shall take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation or in the Official Gazette.”

READ: What you need to know about the new requirements for Filipinos traveling overseas

Marcos is set to tackle the issue of human trafficking with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia this September.

Clavano said the DOJ has previously briefed Marcos on the area of human trafficking and that the president “understands very clearly the depth and how wide-spread this problem is.”

“Although we have already been given the Tier 1 ranking for 2022, we felt we could further enhance our own operations against human trafficking,” he pointed out.

“We have to understand that our population is a very migratory population,” he added. “Around 10 percent of our population seeks to travel abroad and find their opportunities abroad and this is very specific to our country as opposed or as compared to other countries who have job opportunities where they are.”

Clavano said among the identified hotspots for illegal trafficking for Filipinos include Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.