I am becoming increasingly aware of a different type of human trafficking in the Philippines. Perhaps what I’m going to discuss doesn’t fall under human trafficking law but maybe it should.  I doubt it is exclusive to the Philippines but this is where I’m at so this is where I see it. I feel like the term human trafficking is being overused. Any time money changes hand in adult related activities it seems like someone wants to sensationalize that and call it human trafficking. Human trafficking has nothing to do with transporting humans in most cases. It is our modern word for slavery. Slavery is where one person has no choice, they are owned. Recently I have noted several times with poorer but working Filipinas are being treated like slaves. Well, at least in my mind. It appears to be human trafficking of Filipinos by Filipino’s.  My guess is that Filipinos know more about this than I do, I hope you’ll speak up about it in the comments.

I have heard horror stories where Filipinas worked as domestic servants in the homes of other Filipinos. They are often locked in, subject to beatings, very low and sometimes no pay as the employer falls behind in their wages. Now, I have met people that this is happening too. This may not run afoul of the human tracking laws. The reason is that they were written for sexual situations. Sometimes men that hire maids try to get more than their houses cleaned and that would likely apply to human trafficking laws. Maybe the laws should be changed to specifically include these kind of abuses.  In my mind, it is just as morally wrong as more common human trafficking. It also seems to be a higher degree of slavery because these people clearly have no choice but to accept it.

The people shown in the photographs here do not have anything to with the content of this article. They are some of the recent photographs I have taken.

How common is Human Trafficking of Filipinos?

I don’t know the answer to that. I use to think it was primarily a problem led by foreigners. It seems like every time a case hits the localFilipina visiting Cebu City press there are Filipinos involved and are arrested but the guy running the operation is a foreigner. He is often in another country and escapes prosecution.

I think some things classified by law as trafficking is pretty lame. However, my opinion doesn’t matter. I’m an outsider here when it comes to things like that. I can accept that. It is not just here though, it is all over the world. I see things where consenting adults agree to things of an adult nature where money changes hands and that ends up running afoul of the law as human trafficking.

To me that seems like special interest at work. They have an interest in creating human trafficking as the more there is, the more their group is needed. Of course, I am not dirt poor so I’ve never been faced with those kinds of choices. I can’t walk in those shoes and know what it feels like. In my shoes, slavery doesn’t include or should not include what people agree too. That’s not ownership.

I posted a message on social networks asking Filipinos to come forward and tell me how common the abuses by Filipino employers are. None were willing to do so. I only received confirmation that it is common but no one would give me any specifics.  Some Filipinos were angry that I was asking the question. While others welcomed the question and wished that others would do so.


Human Trafficking in the Philippines is Not Just a Foreign Problem

I was with a woman not long ago and I noticed that when I moved she would often flinch like she was about to be hit. I didn’t think too much about it the first time but after I saw the same reaction several times, she told me that her boss hits her. All I am really sure of is that someone is and I have no readon to disbelieve her. She denied it happened at all at first.

She generally gets four hours off work every two week. Household employees by law are to have one day a week off, at least. Many times they don’t take their day off but that’s voluntary. The woman is usually not allowed to leave more often than that.

Vendor in the PhilippinesI know another Filipina that undercharged someone 2 peso for food supplies in a large warehouse. The customer had made a very large purchase and she undercharged her by 2 pesos. The friend told me that her boss held her salary for more than a month as a result. She did though, finally pay her. She was the only employee that had her pay withheld. She usually worked seven days a week. She wanted to come see me more often but was unable too because she never got a day off from work. Or at least that was her excuse. I asked her this week if her employer ever hit her and she said “No”. She doesn’t get overtime pay.

I knew a young lady, under 18 that claimed she too was beaten when she worked as a ya ya or nanny and was locked in the home when her employer would leave.

My former girlfriend told me about these things happening too, specifically that some Filipinos would lock their household servants up so they couldn’t leave whenever their employer left the home.

I have never heard of a Filipino being charged with human trafficking for this kind of behavior. Perhaps it doesn’t fall under the human trafficking laws but I think it should. Once you introduce non-payment, beatings and confining people that sounds a lot like slavery to me.  If a foreigner acted this way, would that change they type of charges filed? Honestly, I think the chances of that would go up.

I doubt failure to pay your employee is even criminal in most cases. This is a debt and you can’t be locked up in the Philippines for failure to pay your debts. I don’t think it should be criminal and the Philippines will shut down employers that fail to pay their employees the wages they are due.

You can understand why the Philippines wouldn’t prosecute very many of the more egregious cases because the government will never know about these cases. Also one must consider the intent of the law. Human trafficking was intended to curb sexual slavery so it possible that it wouldn’t even apply to these situations because of that. Like the USA, congressional intent is important. But it sure seems like slavery to me.

Will Police Charge Filipinos for Human Trafficking?

I hear people say that only foreigners will get arrested and that Filipinos can do whatever they like. That is absolute rubbish. There are Filipinos that get arrested for it all the time. Sometimes for selling the services of women on the street. I recall reading about a couple of men that were convicted of that and a couple more that were arrested for it while carrying out their business on the very street where I live now. I think those convicted where operating on this street.

Sometimes men and one woman will approach me and ask “Would you like a girl”? The first time I usually just shake my head no. UntilOlder Filipina Visiting Cebu City they get to know me though, they will keep asking. In the past, they would keep asking every night. I got irritated one night and shouted “I don’t want a girl” and noticed he backed off immediately. So now, as soon as they ask the second time, I do that. Very few of the men carrying out this kind of business will now even approach me. Most know me and know what I will do. It does seem that they don’t want that kind of attention being drawn to them.

Also, I’ve read of Filipino karaoke bar owners getting busted along with some employees. So yes, the authorities in the Philippines will certainly go after Filipinos for human trafficking.

It won’t get as much press. If it is a Foreigner it will likely be on the front page and the lead story on TV news too. This may even go on for a few days. When I find stories of Filipinos doing it, it is usually a smaller article and not on the front page in most cases. There is likely to be more grandstanding by politicians when such cases involve foreigners. This goes on in the USA and probably other countries too. If a foreigner does something illegal people are usually more enraged by the crime.

Children in Servitude?

I remember a few years ago Hillary Clinton was behind some kind of push to stop children working on farms in the Philippines. That seemed outrageous to me. I don’t recall now it if targeted family farms or not but I think it did. It is already illegal to employee someone in the Philippines under the age of 18 unless they are your family. Sure, it goes on, especially out in small shops in the provinces.  It also happens with maids. Families need money so they will encourage their children to work. It seems a little less outrageous to me now that I have seen the kind of abuses that goes on.

Too Many Abused Women in the Philippines

Beautiful Filipina Visits an ExpatOn a side note, way too many of the women that I have been close too here flinch when I reach up to brush their face with my hand. They will usually deny they have been beat but I talk to them about it and usually they will admit they have been abused in some way or another.  There are way too many foreigner men beating on women but it is more often to be locals and it isn’t always men. I noticed one young lady that has flinching and came to see me with bushes and scratches on her. It was her sister that was attacking her. The young woman also said that “It is my fault, I snuck out at night because if I ask sister she will say no”.  She is 21 years old. That is what 21 year olds will do. Go out party! I told her basically that if she is going to live under her sisters roof she should not do that but there was still no excuse of her sister to hit her.


When Men do it, it is very appalling to me. We are so much stronger than a woman that we could kill them by hitting them. These kind of abuses need to stop. Sure, I’ve known one woman in the USA that would flinch every time I moved quickly. That was only one. I’m seeing a lot of it here. I think it is accepted. Maybe something needs to be done to change how it is viewed. It wasn’t all that long ago in the USA that the police wouldn’t get involved in domestic assaults. The same thing is going on here now. I’m not pointing a finger as if I superior because I come from that was not different at all just 20 years or so ago. I sure would like to see abuse end in all places and that fear stop being used as means to control weaker people.

These kind of changes don’t happen overnight, it takes generations. The changes though, they will come. I’m certain of that. The sooner the better.

By Rusty Ferguson

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