As Congressman of the Sarangani province in the Philippines, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao seems to be making the eradication of slavery and human trafficking a high priority. In July, about a month after being sworn into the House of Representatives, Pacquiao spoke at an anti-human trafficking event in Manila, “gamely posing for the media wearing red boxing gloves,” (as one report put it) and declaring “an all-out war against human trafficking.”
The latest news? There is zero budget in the government anti-human trafficking agency. And, Representative Pacquiao is fighting for funds. The Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) was created after the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. But, without funds, its power to prevent slavery is—as Pacquiao says—weak “against the more powerful and well-heeled human trafficking syndicates”
Pacquiao also said that Philippine law should be changed to allow disclosure of the identities of suspected traffickers, saying “It’s so unfair. It’s alright if we don’t divulge the real name of the victims, but not of the traffickers. How can our countrymen know who to avoid if the traffickers are protected by law?”
Currently, the Philippines is a Tier 2 country in the Trafficking in Persons Report, put out annually by the US State Department. Once a country falls to Tier 3, they can be ineligible to receive US foreign aid. Read the 2010 TIP report here.
In 2008, Free the Slaves gave the William Wilberforce Freedom Award to Amihan Abueva, founder of the Philippine-based anti-slavery organization ECPAT. ECPAT was created in 1991 to end sexual exploitation of children. They have a presence in more than 70 countries, and has helped the passage of a number of Philippine laws to punish perpetrators and protect survivors. They have collaborated with the global tourisn industry to prevent child sex tourism. Read more about Amihan and ECPAT here.