On the 17th March 2016, the Philippines announced their accession to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. As of March 2016, 94 states are party to the convention.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’s mission is to protect the world’s most vulnerable citizens, its children, from the harmful effects of international parental child abduction, by securing the prompt return of a child who has been abducted from or retained outside their country of habitual residence, in violation of custodial rights. The reality though is not so straight forward and the return rate of abducted children around the world using the convention is alarmingly very low. Many factors contribute to this dismal return rate including but not limited to corruption, loop-holes in the convention, lack of knowledge by judicial systems, and abductors ignoring rulings.
In the last four years, Singapore, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago and South Korea joined the convention. Japan the infamous ‘black’ hole of Parental Child Abduction became a treaty partner in February 2014 but still struggles to comply with the convention leaving hundreds of foreign parents still victims to the Japanese and their one sided failed family court system.
It is no longer unusual to know an aunt, neighbour, friend, colleague, uncle, sister, or cousin who has had a child abducted to a foreign country. If you do know someone, our next question may be difficult. Did that child ever return from the Philippines? The reality is that since the Philippines is not a party to the Convention, it is not uncommon for abduction cases to remain unresolved for years, resulting in an often prolonged and painful separation between children and their parents. And vice-versa for Philippine citizen parents who currently have limited remedies to seek the return of their children from abroad; this is why joining the Convention now is of the utmost importance.
But will the Philippines be another Hague Convention signatory country that is just signing to please the international community? Will the Philippines be another Japan, Poland, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Denmark, Ukraine……and many other signatories that do not adhere to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions? Time will only tell but from CARI’s experience working in this field for almost 17 years, we highly doubt the Philippines will comply and return abducted and retained foreign children back home. As it stands the Philippines has a shocking return rate in fact CARI has not heard of one child being returned legally through the courts.
Even powerful authorities such as the FBI are powerless to intervene on foreign soil and with the Philippines having no extradition agreements with most countries there is nothing left-behind parents can do even if their home countries or Interpol issues arrest warrants. It’s just another useless piece of paper and one that abducting parents often laugh at. Something CARI has noticed working in the Philippines often is the lack of protection of rights and well-being of abducted children. The Philippines government really needs to help protect abducted children but when a government can’t look after the well-being of their own children; foreign abducted children will be treated no differently.
Child sexual exploitation thrives in the Philippines with young children on offer for sex by gangs and pimps all over the country and usually in your face for all to see. This is also extremely concerning for the left behind parent as CARI has seen 2 cases we have dealt with where the abducted child being offered or about to be sold off due to severe poverty by the abducting parent and their families.
Corruption thrives in every department including the judicial system in the Philippines and many lawyers are the biggest thieves. DO NOT contact any Mr or Mrs Lawyer in the Philippines. Make sure you deal with an experienced lawyer who has dealt with other IPCA cases. You get the wrong lawyer and you’ll be paying more money and waste more time then hiring an experience more expensive lawyer.
The Philippines have many unsolved and on-going Parental Abduction cases some ongoing for over 10 years with no sight of a result.
As it stands the future for abducted children taken to the Philippines will be a massive battle with no hope of help to return to their habitual residence. We hope the Philippines government, system, courts and judges prove us wrong but the reality is……..they will not!
If you have had your children abducted to the Philippines please contact CARI for advice and assistance.
Disclaimer: Any information contained in this post is provided for general information only and based on CARI’S 16 year experience. Independent legal advice should be sought in for specific information relating to individual cases.