By Roy Mabasa
Progress has been made in the latest round of high-level dialogues between the United States and the Philippines in combating child trafficking, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement on Wednesday.
This development came after senior U.S. and Philippine officials met in Manila and Cebu this week to discuss the progress in efforts to prosecute and convict child traffickers and provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for child victims of online child sexual exploitation (OSEC).
Also discussed was the progress made in the Philippines to educate communities on how to identify and prevent OSEC and child labor trafficking from occurring.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Cotton, leader of the American delegation to the dialogues, gave the keynote address at both the Cebu and Manila events.
Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, co-chair of the DoJ’s Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), delivered a keynote speech on behalf of the Philippine government.
The dialogues are part of the four-year U.S.-Philippines Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership signed in 2017.
“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 reflect the strength and impact of our work for all to be free,” the visiting U.S. official said.
Guevarra said the Philippine government lost no time in ensuring that all its efforts are sustained and scaled up, signifying its firm commitment to the objectives set forth in the CPC since the program’s launching last year.
“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,” he said.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, an office under the U.S. Department of State, earlier committed P215 million ($4.3 million) while its counterpart, the Philippine DoJ’s IACAT, contributed approximately P40 million ($800,000) to meet the two countries’ objectives.