Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)


Helping Duty-bearers in the implementation of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP)

ACTIP Delegates in Bali,Indonesia
Delegates to the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) held in Bali, Indonesia

A total of twenty-four (24) civil society feminists and anti-trafficking advocates gathered in Bali, Indonesia on January 21-23, 2020 to strategize on helping duty-bearers in the implementation of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP). In addition, the Political Counselor of the Canadian Mission to the ASEAN, Mr. Richard Le Bars, and the Consul-General of Timor Leste to Indonesia, Ms. Elda Ferreira, graced the occasion and delivered messages.

Mr. Richard Le Bars delivering his message to the participants.
Mr. Richard Le Bars delivering his message to the participants.

Mr. Le Bars expressed that “Canada is proud to engage in feminist foreign policies and gender equality.” He added, “solutions to trafficking must be found in human rights framework, as foundational to our pursuit toward justice, peace and preserving dignity of all people.”

Delegates from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Timor Leste and Indonesia presented the situation of trafficking and sexual exploitation in their respective countries, their analysis of legal frameworks as harmonized with the ACTIP, well as model interventions on empowering victims-survivors and in addressing the demand side of trafficking.

Self-funded guests shared accounts and analysis of trafficking of women from the ASEAN countries to the more developed countries such as Japan, Australia and the US, as well as services available.

The meeting mapped out strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats for the feminist anti-trafficking movement. Among strategies united upon were to create alternatives for victims-survivors of trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation, to build broad and feminist coalitions to campaign for complete harmonization of laws with the ACTIP which protects all victims regardless of consent and seeks accountability of the demand side. The meeting also agreed that grassroots education on trafficking and aggravating issues such as conflict, climate crisis and the use of information technology for sexual exploitation should be clearly discussed.

Strongly inspired by the connections and shared successful experiences, the meeting delegates agreed to continue to meet, with hopes of being supported on a sustained basis by Missions on the ASEAN.

Conference opening ritual.
Conference opening ritual.

Anti-trafficking Leaders Gathered in a Successful Strategizing Meeting in Quezon City

Delegates to the National Strategizing Meeting
Delegates to the National Strategizing Meeting

Sixty (60) civil society leaders gathered on September 20-21, 2018 in Quezon City, Philippines to strategize on combatting trafficking, prostitution and other forms of violence against women and children. The leaders represented survivors of trafficking and prostitution, youth organizations, direct service providers for survivors of violence, Muslim and indigenous women, migrants, LGBT and trade union leaders.

Mr. Warren Mucci, Counsellor for Political and Public Affairs at Canada’s Embassy in the Philippines, addressed the assembly about education as strategy in moving towards cultural change. Canada has been supporting projects in the Philippines, including CATWAP’s trainings in Palawan and Siargao for frontline responders in responding to sexual exploitation in tourism. Canada worked with G7, and TIP are one of those that they championed.

Mr. Warren Mucci delivering a message to the Assembly.
Mr. Warren Mucci from the Embassy of Canada
in the Philippines delivering a message to the Assembly.

Atty. Jaye Bekema, representative of Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile spoke about the Senator’s commitment to push for the anti-prostitution bill and related bills to respond to various forms of violence against women and children.

Among the priorities outlined in the strategizing meeting were: the harmonization of laws on women’s issues such as rape, sexual harassment and prostitution, in terms of acts that are qualified or aggravated; the passage of the anti-prostitution law and local ordinances that will remove criminal liability from exploited persons in prostitution and shift onto those who profit and gain from the exploitation; and pushing for incentives for tourism establishments that are zero-trafficking through local ordinances, citing the case of El Nido ( which was an output of a previous project with Canada Fund for Local Initiatives).

The network will also push for a counter-culture to rape and commodification of women through online campaigns and grassroots education. In research, among others, the network will map economic interventions and organize a sharing of best practices among members.

In terms of empowerment of survivors, the organizations present will share successful cooperative models and will organize the sharing of resources and skills such as on trauma-sensitive yoga, mental health support programs, and self-organizing.

The participants made a toast to CATW-AP’s 25 years of existence and CATW International’s 30th before the assembly was concluded. The anti-trafficking leaders came from Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Cotabato, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Sur, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Antique, Leyte, Palawan, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Zambales, Benguet, and Ilocos Sur, representing major provinces of the country.

Youth participant bearing the flags of represented provinces in the meeting during the closing ceremonies
Youth participants bearing the flags of represented provinces in the meeting during the closing ceremonies

For At-Risk Towns, Anti-Trafficking Trainings are a Must

El Nido Training Participants’ Class Picture
El Nido Training Participants’ Class Picture

As the Philippine President remarked on inviting foreigners to the country with “42 virgins,” the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) was wrapping up its anti-trafficking project for local government officials in a tourist spot in Palawan. The project was done in cooperation with local government units and the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

It was the height of irony as CATW-AP documented a number of foreign tourists bringing girls, apparently minors, into hotel rooms in El Nido. Relatedly, Palawan figures in the news with a growing rate of HIV (from 147 in June 2017 to 221 in August of the same year). Eighty-nine (89) are from the age group 24 and below, with one even below 15. El Nido is among the affected municipalities. CATW-AP’s own HIV counselor notes that while the capital city may record the most number of cases, many would, in fact, be residents of outlying municipalities, hoping that their town of origin would not be known.

It is a fact that a huge number of HIV transmission is via “transactional sex” or prostitution. Sex tourism persists in El Nido, even as underreported. In itself, the act is punishable under Republic Act 7610 or “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.” And in cases they are proven to be procured in the context of prostitution, it is punishable under Republic Act 10364 or the Amended Anti-Trafficking Law. Sex tourism is contributory to the HIV growth rate, other than exploiting our women and children.

The anti-trafficking trainings CATW-AP conducted sought to address trafficking comprehensively in what are considered as trafficking hotspots in Palawan. It involved participants from the local social welfare and development offices, Philippine National Police (PNP), Tourism Office, Rural Health Unit and other relevant agencies. In Bataraza, the southern tip of Palawan, which is a jump-off point for trafficking to Malaysia and other countries, participants included the Prosecutor’s Office, PNP-Maritime and Philippine Coastguard.

Bataraza was included in the project as another target area in order to enhance local capacities to prevent and respond to trafficking in persons and other forms of violence against women and children (VAWC).

In 2012, CATW-AP assisted a group of Bulakeños who were trafficked via Palawan to Malaysia the previous year,” according to Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of CATW-AP. The circuitous process started at Clark airport as the ten (10) trafficking victims were flown to Puerto Princesa before they were transported to the southernmost tip of Palawan, loaded in a boat to Bankalan, and then again to Kudat, before traveling by land to Kota Kinabalu and then to Miri, Sarawak. The women were exploited in unlicensed massage parlors in Malaysia.

As late as September 30, 2017, six (6) women bound for Sendakan, Malaysia, were rescued in Bataraza. According to the report, “the number will be added to 62 previously-rescued victims of human trafficking in Palawan from January-September of this year based on the record of Provincial Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.”

CATW-AP trainings included sessions on international and national anti-trafficking standards and related policies, as well as skills provision on preventing trafficking, protecting victims, and prosecuting cases in partnership with all stakeholders in the locality. During the training, CATW-AP noted that while many local government officials claimed to have finished numerous anti-trafficking and gender trainings, simulated response workshops showed deep gender bias and victim-blaming. Those were addressed by deeper discussions on gender concepts, human rights principles, victim testimony and role-played application of legal standards to actual cases.

In the end, government officials wrote to CATW-AP that the training went beyond expectations. “I did not expect that this training would be this impactful and affective to us.” A police officer wrote in his evaluation, thus, “I learned a lot from this training. To be more sensitive in handling cases concerning victims of rape, violence against women and trafficking. I will continue to enforce the law and put the perpetrators in jail.”

CATW-AP and CFLI also provided 7,000 Anti-Trafficking Primers and 13,150 information cards on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and Violence Against Women and Children to participants. This will assist the local government officials in their plans to train communities and establishments, to prevent sex tourism and other forms of trafficking. CATW-AP hopes that more local government officials around the country will be trained to help prevent trafficking and all forms of sexual exploitation of women and children, and contribute to the significant decrease in HIV incidence in the country.

The trainings were held in Bataraza on Oct. 25-27, 2017 and in El Nido on January 8-10, 2018.

CFLI is a competitive contribution facility under the Embassy of Canada in Manila that provides short term direct funding assistance to community groups, non-government organizations, people’s organizations for small projects addressing governance, democracy, capacity-building, economic, environmental and other social development issues.

Case Response Simulation, where PO2 Cris Hamora arrests a sex tourist as acted out by a participant from the Reproductive Health Unit (RHU), witnessed by a Barangay Security and by the Tourism Officer Arvin Acosta
Case Response Simulation, where PO2 Cris Hamora arrests a sex tourist as acted out by a participant from the Reproductive Health Unit (RHU), witnessed by a Barangay Security and by the Tourism Officer Arvin Acosta

Women Call to Stop the Bombings in Marawi, Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao,
as both Aggravate Violence Against Women

Women Call to Stop the Bombings in Marawi,
Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao, <br>as both Aggravate Violence Against Women

The World March of Women on On June 3, 2017 called for 24 Hours of Feminist Solidarity Action around the world for peace.

Women leaders from the World March of Women, Kaisa Ka, SENTRO, Focus on the Global South, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Center for Migrant Advocacy, Phils. Inc., Batis – AWARE, WomanHealth Phils., Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), and Bagong Kamalayan staged tableaus this morning at Plaza Miranda to dramatize the impact of wars and militarism. They called for truth about what’s happening in Marawi and Mindanao to come out and for perpetrators of violence to be pursued, and not find excuses in these events to declare Martial Law.

Around 130 persons have been killed, thousands trapped in Marawi City and tens of thousands more displaced following a botched military operation to capture Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. Martial Law was declared all over Mindanao, and President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly warned about expanding it to the rest of the country.

“Martial Law is never the answer as we have seen its horrors for decades in the past,” according to Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the World March of Women - Marche Mondiale des Femmes - Marcha Mundial Mujeres. “Already, vulnerable Moro populations in Davao who do not have birth certificates nor identification cards, have been rounded up following the declaration of Martial Law,” added Enriquez.

“The real possibility of a state of martial law being utilized for counter-insurgency and the suppression of civil liberties, including workers’ and trade union rights, is a well-founded fear of our people due to our two-decade experience of dictatorship under Marcos,” said Mary Jane Mora Labongray, SENTRO-Women Coordinator.

Virginia Lacsa Suarez, President of Kaisa Ka, strongly criticized the President for his rape remark. “The Commander-in-Chief even exhorted and cajoled soldiers to exercise their martial law powers, assuring them that he would answer for those who may be accused of committing abuses and other crimes, including rape,” said Lacsa.

The group reminded the public how wars and militarism have always targeted the bodies of the sexually objectified and those considered to be most vulnerable—the women. Thus prostitution, rape, forced migration, and all forms of violence against women are multiplied exponentially as bodies of women are considered to be weapons of war against perceived enemies.

"Martial Law aggravates the vulnerability of Lumads and Muslims to different forms of discrimination and violence," added Judy Afan Pasimio of Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights).

The group also scored super power nations that produce armaments and sell to countries where they have strong economic interests. “The Trump government is further boosting its war industry, is urging NATO countries and his allies in Asia to raise their military budgets and to join him in more wars against what they consider as primary threats to global security,” Lacsa added.

“Before the existence of Martial Law gets normalized; before violation of human rights, which is one of the first casualties under this situation, become more rampant and intensify, we must give all our efforts toward resisting all these attempts solidify again authoritarianism in our country,” remarked Clarissa Villasin Militante of Focus On The Global South.

#WomenForPeace #24hSolidarityAction


Women’s groups call on the new administration to respect women and human rights:

Jean Enriquez, CATW-AP's Director on Prostitution


Click to download a copy of the Letter-Complaint

Letter-Complaint against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte for Violations of Republic Act No. 9710, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta of Women”

1. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Youth
2. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
3. Bagong Kamalayan
4. Buklod ng Kababaihan
5. Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
6. Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
7. CPSU Gender and Development (GAD) Team
8. Development through Active Women Networking (DAWN)
9. Focus on the Global South
10. Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
11. Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol
na Kamalayan (KASIBULAN)
12. LIHOK Pilipina
13. Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights)
14. Malayang Lapian ng mga Kababaihan sa Irosin (Malaya Ka, Inc)
15. Mindanao Tri-People Women's Forum
16. Mindanao Tri-People Women Resource Center (MTWRC, Inc.)
17. Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (Kaisa Ka)
19. Respect FastFood Workers' Alliance
20. Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas
21. Sarilaya
22. SENTRO-Women
23. Urduja
24. WomanHealth Philippines
25. Women and Gender Institute (Wagi Mc)
26. Women Enablers Advocates and Volunteers for
Empowering and Responsive Solution (WEAVERS)
27. Women Interacting for New Growth and Services (WINGS)
28. Women's Education Development
Productivity & Research Organization (WEDPRO)
29. Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau - WLB
30. Women's Day Off
31. World March of Women - Pilipinas
32. Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality – YSAGE


We, women, celebrate the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that incoming President Rodrigo Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women when he made debasing remarks on rape and abuse of a domestic worker, kissed female supporters and held them on his lap in public, to the women’s surprise and without their consent, during his presidential campaign.

For the victims of rape and sexual assault and for all other women who were affected by his acts, that the women’s right against gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment was affirmed through this resolution is victory in itself. This is a huge positive step in the struggle against patriarchy.

That the resolution upholds and promotes the Magna Carta of Women is also seen as triumph in the legal arena. This battle, however, is far from over, as the replies of the incoming President through his legal counsel and incoming Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, to the women’s complaint have focused on accusing the CHR of partisanship, and the complainants of simply discrediting the respondent for electoral purposes. Last Monday, the complainants filed a comment to the incoming president's motion for reconsideration at the CHR.

We stand by the complainants that the movements they represent “have been around far longer than the Respondent’s tenure in government,” and that as advocates for women’s rights for decades, we are “duty-bound to ensure that the laws women have so tirelessly fought for are being respected and complied with by all.”

A number of our partner organizations worked in Davao City for pro-women legislation and it is, therefore, more disturbing that the same person claiming to be advancing women’s rights in his reply, would commit acts of discrimination and violence against women.[1]

We maintain that the respondent’s remarks/acts and justification of them in public speeches caused harm on women, especially the victim-survivors of rape.

As he assumes greater power, we are similarly disturbed by the lack of remorse, the disparaging of human rights institutions, as well as statements encouraging other human rights violations towards journalists and perceived criminals. To date, 40 suspected criminals, including a corn farmer in Zamboanga and three members of the LGBT community, have been killed summarily, since Duterte has been elected. He gave the police assurances during the campaign that they will have his full backing if they killed “criminals in the line of duty,” while also calling for the restoration of death penalty.

A mayor in Batangas had been parading suspects, three of whom were minors. A mayor in Cebu has been offering bounties for killers of suspected criminals. We have been witnessing children being torn away from their poor parents vending at night in the name of curfew. Women advocates suffer from rape and death threats when they raise their voices against the respondent's acts. Not only was a culture of rape encouraged, but a culture of violence, death and reprisal.

We, therefore, call on all sectors of society to be as advocates, watchful and critical over violations of human rights standards we fought for through the years. We will also hold this administration answerable to its promises about ending contractualization, protecting the environment -- opposing mining and the use of dirty energy in the country -- and looking after the rights of farmers, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups including the LGBT community.

Our tasks in the women’s and human rights movements may have become more daunting as the Duterte administration begins, but as in the past so shall it be in the present, social movements press on and thrive despite of governments, even of the authoritarian kind.


1. Dadine Saunar Abella
2. Jen Albano
3. Kora Dandan Albano
4. Holly Allan
5. Fatima Pir Allian
6. Robert Andres
7. Edna Aquino
8. Zinnia Arcinue
9. Julie Jacob Asuncion
10. Faith Bacon
11. Mcoi Bagaforo
12. Marla A. Barcenilla
13. Tess Battad
14. Yen Belarmino
15. Walden Bello
16. Laean Abrogina Benitez
17. Zena Bernardo Bernardo
18. Maribel Brown
19. Lori G. Brunio
20. Annie Calma
21. James Castaneda
22. Kathy Clarin
23. Ging Cristobal
24. Ivanka Custodio
25. Tina Cuyugan
26. Zoe Damag
27. Herbert Docena
28. Mila De Guzman
29. Yeyin De La Cruz
30. Angel Doniego
31. Maria Elizabeth Embry
32. Julia Enriquez Cristobal
33. Mari Enriquez
34. Aissa Ereñeta
35. Wilma Famoso
36. Astrid Fontanilla
37. Marevic Balisalisa Fontanilla 38. Naomi Fontanos
39. Melvs Garcia
40. Patricia Gonzales
41. Viol de Guzman
42. Anj Heruela
43. Dee Dicen Hunt
44. Joy Anne Icayan
45. Avic Ilagan
46. Lorna Quejong Israel
47. John Rex Jardinero

48. Rossan Joson
49. Malou Pantua Juanito
50. Gemma Lambino
51. Yna de Leon
52. Trisha Kaye Lleone
53. Ester Libo
54. Ted Lopez
55. Becky Lozada
56. Katrina Lucena
57. Cielo Magno
58. Nilda Mangilay
59. Arnie Rabe-luke Manuel
60. Eileen Matute
61. Lan Mercado
62. Zenaida Salientes Mique
63. Lily Mocles
64. Giselle Montero
65. Eugene Moreno
66. Menchie Nolasco
67. Eden Ocampo
68. Joy Oh
69. Gie Onida
70. Ria Quintos-Ortega
71. Julius Panday
72. Bodjie Pascua
73. Sokie Paulin
74. Corazon Pindog
75. Maria Lourdes Polotan
76. Abi Portillo
77. Regina Layug Rosero
78. May Quizan
79. Odes Reyes
80. Doris Lois Rifareal
81. Mary Rebecca Rogacion
82. Tessa Cruz San Diego
83. Alice Sarmiento
84. Mel Soto
85. Joyce Sierra
86. Amelia Suarez
87. Filomena Gloria Subala
88. Msmyra M Tambor
89. Kelly Denn Tomas
90. Christine Anne Trajano
91. Dinna Umengan
92. Ron de Vera
93. Ester Villarin
94. Jay Yparraguirre
95. Sonia Soosot Nisa Zerrudo



CATW-AP's Director on Prostitution:

Jean Enriquez, CATW-AP's Director on Prostitution

"In many places around the world, women in prostitution are disappearing. To buyers, women are discardable objects. Every woman we have helped in prostitution suffered from physical, sexual and psychological abuse from customers. Investigation should be relentless. This suspected serial killer should be prosecuted and punished. And not let these cases in Manila remain unsolved like the others." - Jean Enriquez, CATW-AP Executive Director

VIDEO:Jean Enriquez at ANC Part 1

VIDEO: Jean Enriquez at ANC Part 2

UNESCO Chair Award was presented to Ms. Jean Enriquez

Coalition against Trafficking in Women (CATW-AP) at Tacloban

UNESCO Chair Award was presented to Ms. Jean Enriquez in recognition of her "Exemplary Contribution to the Promotion and Expansion of the Frontiers of Human Rights and to Fostering Global Solidarity." 15th Annual International Conference on Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Exploitation Given by the UNESCO Chair an Institute of Comparative Human Rights, University of Connecticut, October 21, 2014.