CHILDREN TRAFFICKED FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN THE PHILIPPINES: AN ANALYSIS OF STATE ACTION USING A NEO-LIBERAL INSTITUTIONALIST FRAMEWORK
The Philippines is listed as one of the seven worst countries for child trafficking in Asia. The problem is so severe that the country is already a point of origin, destination, and transit of Victims of Trafficking (VoT). Filipino children in the Philippines are trafficked primarily for the purpose of exploitation, economically, through forced labor, and sexually, as being forced into prostitution. However, in spite of the currently existing number of international legal instruments in place that deals with Trafficking in general, there seems to be a disjuncture between the states’ adherence to such legal instruments and the government’s enforcement methods. This paper uses a neo-liberal institutionalist framework in analyzing state response to child trafficking vis-à-vis enforcement. The modern variant of liberal institutionalism considers states as primary actors in the international system and considers that international institutions can regulate state behavior and thereby also promote inter-state cooperation. The paper reveals that the government’s efforts to address the issue of trafficking through the passage of pertinent legislation is marred by questionable enforcement practices along with the lack of a specific legislation dealing trafficking. In addition, the victim-protection model is also problematic in a way that victims with agency are not penalized. Moreover, the failure of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to maintain a database of trafficking cases along with the proper identification of victims, amounts to the failure of the government to determine the extent of trafficking cases in the country, especially that of trafficked children.
Index Terms- Child trafficking, VoT, liberal institutionalism, victim-protection model, law enforcement