Follow-up to Dutch initiative against trafficking of Filipinos

There is to be broad international action to stop the exploitation of Filipino workers worldwide. That is the substance of the Manila Declaration, drawn up at the initiative of the Dutch embassy in Manila and signed by the Philippines and 20 other countries. Public authorities, international organisations, NGOs and private sector representatives have also declared their support for the agreement.

‘A shocking proportion of the 10 million Filipinos who work abroad are exploited,’ says Marion Derckx, Dutch ambassador to the Philippines. ‘We’re talking about things like child pornography and forced labour, with victims including those recruited for domestic work and for work on ships. We cannot turn a blind eye to their fate.’

The embassy decided to take action when it found out that fake contracts were being used to obtain visas for Filipino workers. ‘When we wanted to get to the bottom of this,’ Ms Derckx says, ‘we came across more and more cases of modern slavery.’

The embassy is now working with the Filipino authorities and, in the Netherlands, with public prosecutors, the police, the border police, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service and the Labour Inspectorate. The foreign embassies in Manila also actively share information and experience – not without success. ‘In order to cut off routes and raise obstacles, you need to work together at international level with all the authorities involved,’ the Ambassador explains. ‘It’s the only way that works. Other countries are now following our lead.’