Monday, August 27, 2007

This Week in the Philippines #5

Riots, US military sneakiness, UN misconduct, bomb threats, and a quick fix to illegal immigration...

Source: Corbis

Possible uprising in support of former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is apparently bracing for a repeat of Edsa III in the aftermath of a verdict on the plunder case against detained President Joseph “Erap” Estrada.Edsa III, an uprising led by thousands of Estrada’s mostly poor supporters in an attempt to restore him to Malacañang on May 1, 2001, was suppressed by former Vice President Gloria Arroyo, who, on Jan. 21 of that year, led a military-backed coup that toppled the now jailed leader and catapulted her to the presidency.

US military builds "temporary structures" in the Philippines
American officials in Manila yesterday denied that the United States is building a military base in Mindanao, but admitted that it is constructing “temporary” structures across Mindanao worth at least $14.4 million for “medical, logistical and administrative services” to be used by US soldiers.

UN asked to recall its highest official in Philippines
Former senator Wigberto Tañada and 48 other leaders of non-government organizations have asked the United Nations to recall its highest official in the Philippines for alleged arbitrariness, unilateralism, abuse, and harassment. In a petition, members of the civil society community said: “Arbitrariness. Unilateralism. Abuse. Harassment. These are words we do not normally attribute to the UN.”

Manila under alert for terrorist bombings
Police have tightened security in malls in the eastern part of Metro Manila following reports that groups aligned with the Abu Sayyaf—the Jemaah Islamiyah and Rajah Solaiman Movement—could be planning “sympathy attacks” in public places in the metropolis.

Immigration bureau asks illegal aliens to stay
The Bureau of Immigration urged all overstaying aliens on Monday to come out and legalize their status as he assured them that they would not be arrested should they request for an extension of their stay in the country.

11 Photos from My Travels

I have spent a good deal of August trekking around the Philippines getting away from the crowded streets, smoggy air, and noise pollution of Manila to bathe in energizing springs, greet powerful mountains, and devour (organic) food grown a few yards away from the kitchen.

Here is what I saw:

A month and a half left in the Philippines.

How time flies...

Trafficking Spreads HIV/AIDS in Asia

Source: Corbis

From Reuters:

About 300,000 women and children are trafficked across Asia each year, accelerating the spread of HIV/AIDS, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

"Trafficking ... contributes to the spread of HIV by significantly increasing the vulnerability of trafficked persons to infection," said Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, HIV/AIDS regional coordinator, Asia and Pacific, for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). "Both human trafficking and HIV greatly threaten human development and security."

UNAIDS estimates 5.4 million people were living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region in 2006, with anywhere between 140,000 and 610,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses.

That makes it the world's second largest number of people living with HIV after sub-Saharan Africa, where 25.8 million people are infected with the virus.

Read the full article here

No More Pedophile Tourists

Source: Corbis

From the Washington Post:

One sexual predator, when interviewed by the FBI, described his experience with foreign child prostitutes this way: "It's like being a star. They want to try my food. They want to see what clothes I wear. They want to watch my television." Such "stars" are the global consumers of innocence, exercising a particularly brutal form of power over the poorest, most vulnerable children on Earth.

About 25 percent of sex tourists targeting children are from the United States, traveling to Latin America, Asia and Africa in search of abomination on the modified American plan.

Another predator told the FBI that he shouldn't be prosecuted because the girls he used were professionals.

In his case, they ranged from 13 to 15 years old.

Read the full article here

iPods used to fight trafficking in Europe

From the Sunday Sun:

HUNDREDS of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being spent on a scheme to help a police force tackle human trafficking.

The devices, which can hold huge quantities of information, have been preloaded with recorded messages in a variety of different languages.

The idea is to provide victims of human trafficking with basic information in their language while officers wait for a qualified interpreter.

The messages have been recorded in Albanian, Portuguese, Czech, French, Lithuanian, Malay, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian and Thai.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Anti-Trafficking TV

Another installment of trafficking-related video clips from around the web

The Politics Behind Human Trafficking

Actor Ron Livingston on Child Sex Trafficking & his New Film HOLLY

Stay tuned for more...

The Feast Returns


Before I left for the Philippines I helped start All Day Buffet, an organization dedicated to connecting young adults to important humanitarian issues throughout the world.

It's a simple idea: Inspire Action. Change the world. Have Fun.

I'm happy to announce we're back and better than ever! We have a new website and a growing community in the Big Easy. And now we are starting a series of happy hours called 'Cause for Drinks.'

Come join us next Wednesday, Aug. 22nd, for our very first one at Gallery Bar in NYC and LePhare in New Orleans. $2 from every drink purchased will go towards school supplies for kids in under-resourced schools in NYC and helping to educate veteran child soldiers in Ghana.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

(NYC) Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard Street (Between Delancy & Rivington) - Map

(NO) Le Phare, 523 Gravier - Map

Being in the Philippines I am unable to attend, but I will be there in spirit.

Hats off to those who organized this event and have various surprises and treats in the pipeline. Although I'm on the other side of the world I'm overjoyed to see your hard work come to fruition- congratulations and thank you for keeping the idea alive!


Misguided Charity

The Controversy Behind International Food Donations

Why does CARE turn down $ 45 million of food aid from the US? Can food possibly hurt more than it helps?

From Manila Bulletin:

CARE’s Alina Labrada pointed out that donation of wheat and other crops does not help in regions where people consistently go hungry because local farming has been weakened by international competition (globalization). She told AP’s Katherine Houreld that the "mechanism" is more hurtful than helpful.

Read more

From Alertnet:

If you flood a market with cheap food, prices tend to fall. While that's good for those buying the food, collapsing prices can hurt poor farmers who are struggling to make a living. This has a knock-on effect on the whole agricultural sector. Say wheat prices drop and people start buying wheat instead of maize. Then maize producers suffer.

There is also a danger when food aid arrives too late that it will disrupt the market for the next season's harvest, making it harder for local farmers to recover. Many experts say this happened to Malawi in 2002, and could become a problem in Niger in 2005.

Read the full article

MTV Launches Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign

MTV, the world's largest television network, plans to launch programmes on human trafficking next month to raise awareness among its 380 million Asian viewers of the illegal multi-billion dollar industry, aid organizations said Friday. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding half-hour documentaries featuring Korean singer "Rain" and Thai pop icon Tata Young, among others, that MTV will air free of charge.

"Law enforcement and community-level efforts to stop human trafficking have been hampered by the public's lack of awareness about the severity of this problem," said Olivier Carduner, USAID's regional director for Asia. "USAID is funding this project with MTV because of the unique opportunity that MTV Networks provide to reach hundreds of millions of people in a region that accounts for many of the world's trafficking victims," said Carduner.

Read the full article here

Visit the MTV anti-trafficking website here

This Week in the Philippines #4

The war on terrorism, politics, linguistic technicalities, medical tourism, and sustainable development...

Marines on patrol (Source: Corbis)

More Troops Deployed to Destroy Abu Sayyaf
The presidential palace has given the military blanket authority to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, a Philippines-based terrorist faction with alleged ties to Al Qaeda. At least 3,500 soldiers are stationed in Sulu for the renewed campaign.

Congressman Asks Pres & VP to Call it Quits
Results of a recent Pulse Asia survey showed President Arroyo’s trust rating slipped to 25 percent. In the survey conducted from June 28 to July 10, military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also got a low trust rating of 19 percent while Philippine National Police chief Oscar Calderon posted an even lower trust rating of 17 percent.

Pilipino, Filipino, or Tagalog?
The 1973 Constitution, through Article XV, Section 3, made a distinction between “Pilipino,” which together with English was made an “official language,” and “Filipino,” which was envisioned as the “common national language.” But what is the difference between Pilipino and Filipino? When is one used over the other? How are they viewed under law?

Medical Tourism will Retain Doctors & Nurses in the Philippines
"Once medical tourism in the country is in full stride, local salaries will become competitive and nurses, doctors, and people in the health profession would prefer to stay in the country," said a director of the Department of Health.

Vietnam's Economic Boom & the Philippines
Vietnam successfully revitalized its moribund economy starting in 1986. Since then it has powered ahead with an average annual growth of 8 percent while reducing poverty, thus achieving the elusive goal of sustainable economic growth and equitable income distribution. How can the Philippines learn from this?

Monday, August 06, 2007

International Labor Migration & Human Trafficking

Women & children trafficked into prostitution can end up forced to work in nightclubs (Source: Corbis)


Human trafficking (trafficking) is modern day slavery. It comprises the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation, peonage, debt bondage, slavery, or other kinds of exploitation.

Trafficking can take various forms including:
• Forced prostitution
• Forced labor (factories, sweatshops)
• Domestic servitude
• Soldiering
• Organ trade
• Commercial or illegal adoption

According to the U.S. State Department up to 800,000 people are trafficked around the world each year for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation. This number does not include trafficking within a country's borders. An estimated 17,000 victims are trafficked into the United States each year. The International Organization for Migration estimates there are around 200,000 to 250,000 women and children trafficked every year in Asia. An estimated 27 million slaves still exist today, more than at the height of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Trafficking is the product of many factors including: poverty, lack of education, unemployment, underemployment, feminization of migration, organized crime syndicates, government corruption, and low awareness of trafficking at all levels of society.

Overseas migrant workers travel to countries across the globe (Source: Corbis)

The Connection to International Labor Migration
The Philippine economy today is heavily dependent on the export of human capital or migrant labor. The resulting income, or remittances, has various macro & micro economic benefits and provides much-needed cash to families who generally spend it on education, health, and homes; however, the wealth is not distributed equally throughout the population. Because higher education is generally private in the Philippines (almost 80% of students in higher education in the Philippines are attending private schools), only those with money can afford it. Because higher education is an important factor in finding work abroad, generally only those with money to begin with benefit from migration and the resulting remittances. This means that families receiving remittances are generally not poor, thus the income gap between rich and poor increases (Tullao et al.). Migration's ability to alleviate poverty, therefore, remains unproven.

Although migration and trafficking are not the same, they share many similarities. In the case of the Philippines, trafficking is an industry that benefits from a culture of migration and newfound remittance-funded economic power that fuel the romanticism and mystique of working abroad. Trafficking thrives on weak economies with large uneducated, poor populations. It comes hand-in-hand with unemployment and underemployment. Trafficking is a bi-product of an unhealthy economy in that only when a sizable group of the population has become financially vulnerable and desperate does it reach its full exploitative, profitable potential. The unemployment and low wages that migrant workers and trafficking victims want to leave behind is the same. In the end, they chase the same dreams except that migrant workers, while still at risk to abuse, are given the chance to fulfill them while trafficking victims never come close.

Culture of Migration

Mega shopping malls reflect the materialistic side of Philippine culture (Source: Corbis)

International labor migration is ingrained in the Philippine consciousness as a path to financial stability and a way to effectively provide for one's family. Over the decades migrants have returned home wearing designer brands, carrying boxes of foreign made goods, and possessing the most valuable resource of a poverty infected nation- cold hard cash. Returning migrants, or balikbayans as they are referred to in the Philippines, bring with them stories of life abroad in the UK, Qatar, the US, Hong Kong, or Australia. They dazzle relatives and neighbors with their newfound worldliness and financial power and as a result move up in their social standing. This is the culture of migration in the Philippines. Migrants promote overseas work simply by coming home, bringing gifts, and perhaps telling a few stories. They are the most effective promoters of international labor migration for their brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews will observe this wealth and view migration as the key to financial success. Often times, as we have seen from the state of the Philippine economy, they are not wrong.

This migration culture makes it easy for traffickers to sell a dream to vulnerable men, women, and children. As previously mentioned, higher education is generally closed to those without money, yet is integral to working abroad. This is where traffickers move in. They offer provincial women jobs in the city or abroad as waitresses or singers. They offer men well paying jobs in factories or farms. They promise money, enough to take care of the family, but their promises are empty. The reality is forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced labor, or some other form of exploitation. The culture of migration helps convince these poor, often uneducated men, women and children that migration is worth the risk because they have seen the gleaming remittance-funded house down the street and heard stories of life abroad.

Economic Factors

Shanty towns dot the urban landscape in the Philippines (Source: Corbis)

Remittances are extremely important for the Philippine economy reaching $US7.6 billion by 2003 and equivalent to 20.6% of the country’s exports and 19.4% of its imports (Yue). If remittances are increasingly important to the country's economy, they therefore constitute a primary tool for local economic development- an influx of foreign currency from healthy economies abroad to be used towards creating industries and jobs at home. Depending on how they are used then, remittances play a key role in either combating or promoting the trafficking industry.

The Philippines remains a poor country. It is a place where trafficking thrives because there is a large vulnerable population that dreams of going abroad to earn foreign wages. The large influx of cash provided by remittances carries with it the potential to stimulate local development, create jobs, improve the standard of living, alleviate poverty, and as a result make a significant dent in the trafficking industry. If remittances are used productively in a way that promotes local economic growth, creates jobs, and increases wages then the Philippines will be on its way to ending modern day slavery within its borders.

Current efforts to combat trafficking are primarily reactive. For example, the government conducts rescues after the victims have been enslaved. Or NGOs counsel victims and provide temporary shelter for them once they have been trafficked. Or the courts attempt to prosecute the traffickers after the fact (there have approximately 10 convictions in the Philippines since it passed its anti-trafficking bill, RA 9208, in 2003). These reactive services are critical because they support those who have been victimized by offering rehabilitative and reintegrative services. But combating trafficking must involve a holistic approach. There must also be active efforts to address trafficking before the problem starts.

Poverty in Manila (Source: Corbis)

Prevention programs that provide information on the dangers of trafficking to at-risk populations are no doubt helpful; however, it is difficult to dissuade someone from migrating in the face of economic desperation. Even if these men and women are aware of the risks involved, this does not change their financial and economic reality and need to provide for their families. This does not change their desire to live a better life. There needs to me something more than preventative information.

The Power of the Dollar
Remittances provide an excellent opportunity to address socioeconomic issues like poverty and trafficking through building the local economy. Trafficking is made possible by economic desperation, but if remittances are used to build businesses and stimulate the local economy, then over time trafficking can be reduced or eliminated through an increase in living standards and a reduction in unemployment. But these improvements must reach all sectors of society and, in regard to trafficking, especially the poor. Higher education must be made accessible to all income groups. The bottom line is that the estimated $20 billion generated annually by international labor migration can do a great deal in spurring local development, creating local jobs, and eventually minimizing the need to leave the country for work; however, these funds must be managed and invested properly to be truly effective.

Money changers are a popular channel through which to send remittances (Source: Corbis)

The Philippine government currently has no control over how remittances are spent. With the rampant corruption that runs through its hallways; however, perhaps this is a good thing. Nevertheless, there needs to be an organization or coalition that can help migrants manage their funds back home in ways that help not only their families and friends, but their community and ultimately their country. In the absence of government initiatives, microcredit, social entrepreneurship-based non-governmental organizations like Unlad Kabayan become integral in organizing and distributing remittances for local economic benefit. Although distribution of remittances for local economic development would, under ideal circumstances, be the responsibility of the government because of superior funding, national reach, networks, etc., existing government corruption is a deal breaker when managing a resource that can play a large part in reviving the local economy.

Filipinos are a large part of the global sea farer industry (Source: Corbis)

Balikbayans, or overseas migrant workers, are called the heroes of the Philippines and in many ways they are having staved off economic troubles through the strength, and wages of foreign markets. But sending money home is only the first step. Remittances can truly transform the Philippine economy and over time, potentially turn the country from a labor export country into a labor import country if its economy can be brought back to life. If remittances are used to create local businesses, create local jobs, raise local wages, and in general invested in the Philippines instead of buying imported goods and focusing solely on training people to leave the country, then the Pearl of the Orient will be taking the first step towards economic independence and improving quality of life at home, including the eradication of trafficking.

An Uncertain Future

Makati, Manila- an island of wealth in a sea of poverty (Source: Corbis)

Has the Philippine government made a mistake by emphasizing the role of international labor migration in the economy? This depends on how the benefits of this decision, in this case remittances, are managed. The local economy is weak, jobs are few, and wages are low. The government cannot ignore the local economy while depending on foreign markets to keep it afloat. Migration labor is not open to all. It is mainly the rich who benefit from remittances. The government continuing to support international labor migration and ignoring local development is almost equivalent to them supporting the gap between rich and poor, which will only worsen if international migration continues in its present pattern. Higher education must be made more accessible to all. The benefits of remittances must trickle down to all levels of society.

Currently the Philippine government has been signing free trade agreements on the condition of relaxed migration laws. While this may benefit those who can afford to become nurses, accountants, computer specialists, etc. abroad, the poor are left out in the proverbial cold at home to survive in a broken economy. They are left desperate and vulnerable to the schemes of traffickers. Further, the cheap imported foreign goods that flood local markets once these agreements are signed will only further shrink local business and make it increasingly difficult for the country to stand on its own.

The Philippine Stock Exchange (Source: Corbis)

The future of trafficking in the Philippines is intertwined with international labor migration because the resulting remittances are an integral factor to the development and survival of the local economy. Policy makers must consider the long-term effects of international labor migration and its impact on the local economy as well as its influence on poverty and trafficking. The government must institute and implement policies that protect its migrants and ensure maximization of remittances to fuel local economic growth. It must stop looking to the exchange rate as a barometer of economic health and develop serious measures towards poverty alleviation and job creation at home. Trafficking is a solvable problem. It cannot be fixed overnight, far from that, but significant progress can be achieved through executing well-planned development strategies that utilize existing resources to improve the local economy.

For now, the Philippines has the potential to change for the better; however, whether it meets this potential remains to be seen.

Labor Mobility and East Asian Integration

Siow Yue CHIA
Singapore Institute of International Affairs
Asian Economic Policy Review (2006) 1, 349–367

The Economic Impacts of International Migration: A Case Study on the Philippines

Tereso Tullao, Jr., Michael Angelo Cortez, Edward See
Center for Business and Economics Research and Development
De La Salle University- Manila, Philippines

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Oldest Profession Flourishes in China

Economic desperation fuels industries like trafficking and prostitution. Poverty, lack of education, and unemployment force people to take risks and find ways to earn enough money to care for their families. These factors create large populations of men, women, and children who then become vulnerable to forced labor, forced prostitution, and other forms of exploitation.

From the Washington Post:

No longer limited to well-known bars or a growing number of karaoke parlors, prostitutes are everywhere in China today, branching out onto college campuses, moving into private residential compounds and approaching customers on mobile phone networks.

Some experts say a complete evaporation of social values caused the explosion of the trade, and they cite the young sex workers who are in the business for easy money and fancy clothes. But the majority of prostitutes have violated old social mores out of desperation to help their families says Jing Jun, a sociology and AIDS policy professor at Tsinghua University

"They are absolutely moral. A lot of these women send half their income back to support their families. They're more filial than I am," Jing said. "Among government officials, Chinese social scientists, health professionals, they are coming around to see that prostitution is not fundamentally connected to a lack of values but a lack of jobs, choices, opportunities and education."

Read the full article

Saturday, August 04, 2007


A sample of trafficking-related videos from around the web:

U.N. Trafficking Ad

Author David Batstone Discusses Trafficking as Modern Day Slavery

News Story on Trafficking

Katie Couric's Notebook: Human Trafficking (CBS News)

Video of a Brothel in Chinatown, New York @ NYU Trafficking Seminar

2007 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report

Since 2001 the U.S. State Department has released an annual report on trafficking in persons to define, document, and raise awareness of the phenomenon and rate countries across the world on their anti-trafficking efforts. The 2007 report was released this past June.

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, a new type of global slave trade. Perpetrators prey on the most weak among us, primarily women and children, for profit and gain. They lure victims into involuntary servitude and sexual slavery. Today we are again called by conscience to end the debasement of our fellow men and women. As in the 19th century, committed abolitionists around the world have come together in a global movement to confront this repulsive crime. President George W. Bush has committed the United States Government to lead in combating this serious 21st century challenge, and all nations that are resolved to end human trafficking have a strong partner in the United States.

- Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

At the heart of U.S. efforts to end human trafficking is a commitment to human dignity. Every day, all over the world, people are coerced into bonded labor, bought and sold in prostitution, exploited in domestic servitude, enslaved in agricultural work and in factories, and captured to serve unlawfully as child soldiers. Estimates of the number vary widely. According to U.S. Government estimates, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and about 80 percent of them are female. Up to half are minors.

-Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons

In this year’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report), the U.S. State Department has added seven nations to its list of most severe offenders which have failed to adequately combat human trafficking and involuntary servitude. Countries which are placed on the worst offender list are subject to immediate consequences from the United States, which may include the “prohibition of grants or sale of security items”. The list now includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia.

Some critics are saying that this year's TIP Report was too lenient on the world's two most populated countries: India and China. The two countries were placed on the intermediate list, which rather than imposing immediate sanctions, allows several months for the country to make changes to its human trafficking policies.

- The Women's Human Rights Program

The report does not exempt the United States from a cataloging of its own trafficking problem, including women and girls who migrate to America and become prostitutes. An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are also trafficked within the United States, primarily for sexual servitude and forced labor, the report says.

While the United States is not assigned a tier rating, Lagon said America stands “ready to be judged” on the problem. He stressed that the United States should be seen as an ally against trafficking.

U.S. efforts to raise awareness of trafficking in persons are paying off, and now millions more people know about the global problem, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In introducing the State Department’s seventh annual Trafficking in Persons Report on June 12, Rice said human trafficking until recently was “akin to a global family secret. It was known but not often discussed publicly.”

Rice said that in her travels around the world, she has noticed “a greater desire by our partners to fight this crime and protect its victims.” The United States, she said, is helping to lead a global movement “not just to confront this crime, but to abolish it. More and more countries are coming to see human trafficking for what it is -- a modern-day form of slavery that devastates families and communities around the world.”

- U.S. State Department

More info on the 2007 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report

Download the report

Criticisms of the TIP Report

Experts Warn of 'Creeping Complacency' in Response to Human Trafficking
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, said the report is meant to be a tool to assess what countries are doing to address the issue.

"What jumps off the pages of this report is that there is a growing tendency – a creeping complacency – to park offending countries in the Watch List," he said in a statement, "rather than identify them as egregious offenders in need of immediate and massive reforms."

Read full article

India has a thriving bonded labor industry which exploits both children & adults (Source: Corbis)

Venezuela Denounces U.S. Report on Human Trafficking
The [Trafficking in Persons] report was also criticized by other nations, including the Philippines and Bahrain, and rights groups have accused the State Department reports of being politically motivated. It has been pointed out that, as Reuters reported yesterday, "friendly countries with major trafficking problems such as India were not placed in the worst category, where U.S. antagonists like Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela routinely appear."

Read full article

Enslaved in the U.S.A.

Source: Corbis

From the National Review Online:

As public awareness has grown about global sex trafficking, Americans were shocked to learn that victims from places such as Mexico, Korea, and Ukraine were sexually enslaved in their towns and cities. In communities across the country, concerned citizens voiced calls for zero tolerance for modern-day slavery.

President Bush made combating human trafficking a priority. Both Attorney Generals Ashcroft and Gonzales have spoken out against trafficking in the U.S. and made the investigation and prosecution of trafficking a priority. Most of the focus on identifying and assisting victims and prosecuting offenders has been on foreign nationals trafficked into the U.S.

There are more American citizens than foreign nationals victimized by sex traffickers in the U.S., yet there are no federally funded services for them, particularly if they are over age 17.

Service providers who have requested funds from the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to assist American victims have been turned down repeatedly by government agencies. The recent attorney general’s report states that TVPA funds are dedicated to non-U.S. citizen victims. Therefore, if you are a victim of sex trafficking in the U.S. from Mexico or Ukraine, there is money for immediate services ($1300 a month), but there are no funds similarly available for an American victim.
Read the full article…

Impact of U.S. Anti-Trafficking Funds Unknown

Source: Corbis

From Newsday:
While the U.S. government has given close to $500 million to foreign governments and human rights groups to combat human trafficking, there has been almost no evaluation of what impact the spending had on the problem, says a government study released Thursday.

In its assessment of U.S.-funded international projects, the Government Accountability Office also said it was virtually impossible to say if trafficking -- compelling people to work as prostitutes or indentured servants through fraud or brute force -- has increased or decreased globally.
Read the full article…

This Week in the Philippines #3

Graft, international trafficking to Iraq, and the Peace Corps...

A Filipino worker applying for a job in Iraq, lights candles during a rally in Manila (Source: Corbis)

Corruption rampant in GMA regime
In a recent survey, seven out of 10 Filipinos, or 71 percent, gave President Arroyo a failing grade in her anti-corruption efforts

New batch of Peace Corps volunteers arrive in Philippines

Fifty seven new volunteers arrive in the Pearl of the Orient for a two-year stint

11 Filipinos trafficked to Iraq to help build US embassy
Kuwaiti company illegally recruits Filipino workers despite Philippine govt travel ban

Lack of enforcement mechanism blamed for trafficking to Iraq

NGO accuses Philippine government of doing too little to prevent trafficking- more important than issuing a travel ban, enforcement mechanisms were absent

Filipino migrant workers share stories of life in Iraq

There are an estimated 10,000 Filipinos in Iraq despite the standing government ban on travel to the war-torn country

Glimpses of the Past Month

Photos from my work & travels in the Philippines...

It's been a while since my last post.

The past few weeks I've been sucked into a whirlwind of activities that have just now died down long enough to post new content before I get swept back up.

Once again my work and personal interests have taken me to disparate regions of this archipelago. Whether hanging out in the province with relatives, snapping photos of girlie bar culture for my upcoming website on trafficking, recording music in a high rise home studio for my album on trafficking, or attending workshops on social enterprise in rebel-infested rural areas, each day brings a new surprise and a new lesson.

Let's begin:

Jeepneys decked out in garrish colors and designs blaring loud music are an inseparable part of the Manila landscape.

70 students + 1 teacher + 1/2 a classroom + tropical heat + 1 fan = high school in the Philippines. And yes, the students in front are literally touching the front wall.

High school marching band in Capiz

Piles of beef, pig, and goat are chopped and prepped for a massive feast in the countryside

Hostesses, or guest relation officers, entertain customers with conversation and sometimes more at bars across the country.

Standing up for worker's rights at a GABRIELA event

Hip hop meets human trafficking- in the studio working on my album

Making the (trafficking) documentary- cameras draw crowds

Hoop dreams Philippines style

Music festival in Malate, Manila

Camiguin- hot & cold springs, hidden waterfalls, volcanoes, and lush jungles.

White Island, a spotless sandbar surrounded by crystal blue waters 15 minutes from Camiguin.

Monument to Andrés Bonifacio and the Katipunan
(or KKK)- Philippine revolutionaries who fought for independence against Spain.

Staff from social enterprise NGO Unlad Kabayan gather in Iligan to discuss community development in the Philippines.

Big article coming late next week, smaller articles before then...