International Child Abduction and the Philippines


With its beautiful beaches and amazing weather the Philippines, no wonder it’s a major holiday destination. Western men are also very attracted to Philippine woman and often meet in online dating sites. However, the love story can quickly go South after children are born.

As a result the Philippines… has been for many years now, the forgotten black hole of International Parental Child Abduction. With Japan often in the spotlight as the black hole of IPCA and rightly so, the media and world often forget countries like the Philippines. Believe us, there are countless countries on the black hole list.

At least once a week CARI – Child Abduction Recovery International, receives an inquiry regarding Parental Abduction to the Philippines. Inquiries may range from “Should I let my ex-partner take my child there for a holiday” to “my child has been abducted to the Philippines what should I do and no one can help.” Majority of abductions are carried out by a approved holiday to see family members during school holidays, only never too return. Don’t think for one minute any legal document you had the other parent sign in relation to returning at specific dates will have an effect in the Philippines courts! It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, similar to Hague Convention rulings… if you’re lucky to get a ruling at all.

The Philippines became a State Party to the Hague Convention in April 2016 and this development has given parents a false sense of reassurance. Over 90% of parents contacting CARI seeking help are fathers from the United States. Unfortunately, the United States and the Philippines are not yet treaty partners. As a result, the Convention cannot be invoked in the case of abductions of children from the United States to the Philippines, or from the Philippines to the United States. There are also no bilateral arrangements between the United States and the Philippines concerning the return of abducted children.

Unfortunately, as we see in nearly all cases, regardless of which countries are involved parents still believe that if their child is abducted to a country that is signatory to the Hague Convention, the law is on their side and the return of their child will be a given. Sadly this is not the case, as left behind parents find out as time goes by and nothing is done. Also, forget about your embassy getting involved or helping no more then offering a list of local lawyers.

We have seen only one case in recent times where the authorities have become involved and have been able to locate and recover the abducting parent and the missing children.

In the case of Ana Lorrigan, who abducted her two children from the USA to The Philippines in 2011, Lorrigan was indicted in the US under the “International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act” which carries a sentence of up to 3 years. The Hague Convention was useless in this case as the abduction outdated the entry date to the convention. Due to Parental Abduction being a crime in the USA, the case came to the attention of the Filipino authorities that the Abductor and the children were travelling on expired passports.

So in short the Filipino Authorities offered their assistance due to there being an immigration violation, NOT as a parental abduction case. Thankfully the American judicial system recognized this case of Parental Abduction as a crime, yet this is still not so in so many countries.

In this case thankfully after 6 long years the abductor will be deported to the USA to face criminal charges and the children will be reunited with the left behind parent but make no mistakes this is an extremely rare case where the authorities assisted.

Parental Abduction in the Philippines is not considered a crime. It is considered a civil legal matter, that must be dealt with through the local Philippine Family Courts. In cases that we have assisted with, it rarely reaches the Family Court. Abductors taking full advantage of the geography of the Philippines, jumping from one island to another to avoid detection. Finding an abducted child in the Philippines is literally like looking for a needle in a hay stack, which is not good when time is so important in abduction cases.

CARI is the only organisation to have successfully recovered children from the Philippines, and sadly what we find with most cases, the children are abducted and essentially held for ransom. Literally using the child as a pawn or weapon, as we like to call it. Abductors try to exploit the left behind parent for their own financial gain demanding money. Parents will pay their ex partners in the hope for a video call or other types of communication with the abducted children, but the Abductors will continue to live on the run with the children, never allowing communication with the left behind parent.

The Philippines is without doubt a black hole for Parental Abductors and what we see time and time again is the Central Authority only looking after the needs of their own citizens, almost becoming an accessory to the abduction of the children. Engaging a lawyer is the Philippines is almost impossible, as they are not versed in the Hague Convention and IPCA, seeing many left behind parents with huge legal bills, but no result. The Philippine courts are horrendously backlogged so expect excessively large delays. With Parental Abduction not being regarded as a crime in the Philippines, the horrendous legal process, corruption, lengthy applications and hearings in the Family Court, will do nothing but work in the abductors favor and force most left behind parents bankrupt due to hefty legal fees.

Also note, once you start a custody case is in the Philippines, a travel ban concerning the children will normally be in place in that country. The Philippines Government advises that, “A minor who is the subject of ongoing custody battle between parents will not be issued a travel clearance unless a Court Order is issued to allow the child to travel abroad with either one of his/her parents or authorized guardian. The family shall be responsible to notify the Bureau of Immigration to include the name of the child/ren in the watch-list of minors travelling abroad. It is therefore the Bureau of Immigration’s responsibility to ensure that no child under the watch-list order leaves the country.”

As we stated corruption in the Philippines thrives throughout all sectors and levels of authorities and courts.

We have seen many cases, actually all the cases we have dealt with in the Philippines, the local courts support the abducting mothers. No doubt the abductors have hidden for some time, which would bring up the old argument of your child’s habitual residence is now classified in the Philippines and you have no leg to stand on. Also remember the courts in the Philippines have jurisdiction under the law of the Philippines to deal with all matters concerning the custody of children who are in the territory of the Philippines, regardless of the continuing jurisdiction of a foreign court.

This blog may read like doom and gloom, that if your child has been abducted to the Philippines you have no hope. If you follow the avenue advised by the Governments and Authorities who don’t give you the honest truth, then we find you have less than a 1% chance of recovering your child through the legal process. It’s fact….

CARI has a much higher success rate. We have intimate knowledge of the landscape of the Philippines and with over 20 years of experience in this field, we can navigate the black hole of the Philippines, locate your child and return them.

For things to change in the Philippines the first thing we would need to see is the Filipino Government recognizing that Parental Abduction is a crime – we can’t see that happening in the foreseeable future. This is not a plug for our business this is reality, whether you want to read the truth or not. The best chance that you have to ever see your child again is recovering your child from the Philippines, through a recovery or negotiation.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding International Parental Child Abduction feel free to contact CARI Child Abduction Recovery International 24/7. We are always available at or by calling our CEO Adam Whittington directly +46 707834328 on Whatsapp

We don’t just talk, we are the only ones who actually recover children!