The government demonstrated modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. Police identified 35 foreign trafficking victims, including 32 Filipino labor trafficking victims in a single case involving a cleaning company (18 males and 14 females), two female domestic servitude victims, and one female sex trafficking victim; such efforts were an increase from two victims identified in the previous reporting period. The government had standard operating procedures in place for victim identification, and that allowed a range of entities to refer victims to the government’s social welfare agency for care, which offered emergency shelter, medical care, and counseling. NGOs also provided this support, either funded by the government or other donors; one NGO received €33,000 ($34,773) in government funds for this purpose during the reporting period. All 35 victims received care services. NGOs continued to provide support and services to 10 trafficking victims identified in 2014, some of whom also continued to receive financial support from the government. While NGOs reported assisting victims who are children, the government has never formally identified a child trafficking victim.
The government encouraged, but did not require, victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their alleged traffickers and provided them with protective support, including the option to testify via video. The law provides victims a two-month reflection period to recover and contemplate cooperation with law enforcement. Foreign victims who decided to assist police in prosecuting trafficking cases were entitled to a temporary residence permit, police protection, legal assistance, and the right to work. The government provided these entitlements to all 35 of the trafficking victims identified during the reporting period. There were no reports the government penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Courts, however, have convicted some minors for prostitution in recent years, who may have been unidentified sex trafficking victims. Additionally, migrants who entered the country illegally, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, were routinely held in detention centers. In December 2015 the government issued new guidance that limited the circumstances under which irregular migrants could be detained, although implementation of the new procedures remained pending at the close of the reporting period. There was also inadequate availability of translators for victims.