Philippines Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from the Philippines’ black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

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Based on statistics released by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), there were at least 20,000 elephants killed world wide by poachers in 2013 for their ivory tusks. The number of elephants killed was slightly down from the 22,000 elephants killed in 2012 and the 25,000 poached in 2011.

At the end of 2013, there were an estimated 500,000 African elephants living in the world. 95 percent of the elephant population has been killed during the last 100 years.

The ivory is collected from elephants in Africa and sold in markets in Asia. According to Cites, there are 8 countries that are heavily involved in either buying, selling or providing illicit ivory. The countries are Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in Africa, and China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia.

The three African countries accounted for 80 percent of the major seizures in Africa in 2013.

Security forces stated that many of the gangs involved in wildlife trafficking are now using existing drug trafficking routes to smuggle the ivory.

(See more elephant poaching statistics here.)

Source:  Damian Carrington, “Fewer elephants killed in 2013, figures show,” Guardian, June 13, 2014.

A study by Oxford Economics and the International Tax and Investment Center found that the Philippines Government lost $357 Million (15.6 Billion Philippine Peso) in tax revenue due to the sale of illegal cigarettes.

17.1 Billion cigarettes that were sold on the black market were smoked in the Philippines in 2013, up from the 6.1 billion illegal cigarettes smoked in 2012. 1.8 billion counterfeit cigarettes were smoked in the Philippines in 2013 as well.

(All cigarette smuggling statistics.)

Source:  Jon Carlos Rodriquez, “Philippines lost nearly P16-B on illegal cigarette sales in 2013 – study,” ABS CBN News, June 5, 2014.

In a report by Human Rights Watch, a death squad organized on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines were reportedly being paid $110 per killing of drug dealers, thieves and even children.

The death squad was reportedly organized by the may of Tagum City, who paid the hit men a monthly salary of $220 and issued .45 caliber handguns and motorcycles. The main task of the squad was to kill “weeds,” or criminals who were viewed as problems for the city. In addition to the criminals, the hitmen would also conduct for profit killings, such as assassinating  a judge or other local politicians.

(See more cost to hire a hitman here.)

Source:  Phelim Kine, “$110 Per Hit,” Foreign Policy, May 22, 2014.

Interpol and cyber crime officials in the Philippines broke up an industrial-style extortion ring that as blackmailing hundreds of people around the world through online channels.

According to security agencies, the 58 people who were arrested in May 2014 would contact people through social media. After establishing a relationship, the group would obtain intimate or sexual pictures from the victim. Once in possession of the images, they would then demand payment or else the images would be released to the public.

Interpol stated that the average “sextortion” demand was between $500 to $15,000. Some victims paid on several occasions before going to the police.

(More illegal job earnings and revenue.)

Source:  AFP, “Dozens held in Philippines over global ‘sextortion’ ring,” Global Post, May 2, 2014.

In 2011, the Philippines Government lost an estimated $3.85 Billion in tax revenue due to illicit financial flows. When the total losses from illegal financial transactions is calculated from 1960 to 2012, over $400 Billion was lost to the Philippines Government, according to a report by Global Financial Integrity.

During the 52 year period, the country lost $132,9 Billion due to various crimes, government corruption and tax evasion activities.

An additional $277.6 Billion illegally entered the Philippines. Most of the illicit funds entered the country though false invoicing of imports that allowed traders to avoid tariffs.

Since the year 2000, the government has lost an average of $1.46 Billion in tax revenue to illicit financial flows.

(More examples of money laundering activities.)

Source:  Associated Press, “Watchdog Shows Illicit Money Flows in Philippines,” ABC News, February 4, 2014.

The Philippines National Police (PNP) stated that live streaming of children forced to perform sexual acts is a multi-billion dollar cyber market worldwide. Web operators in the Philippines charge customers up to $100 per hour to view children perform requested sexual acts on camera. In addition to live streaming, videos and images are sold for $22 (1,000 Philippine Pesos.)

Criminal justice programs fighting the trade state that the Philippines is among the top countries in the world where sexual abuse of children takes place for online viewing. Intelligence collected by government security agencies find that these cyber dens where webcams operate are concentrated in the Luzon and Cebu areas.

Source: “PHL among top producers of child pornography, international task force says,” GMA News Online, January 17, 2014.

An international enforcement action broke up a child pornography ring in January 2014 that was providing customers with webcam streaming of children committing sex acts. The webcam was based in the Philippines and lead to 29 people being arrested. The investigation spanned across 12 countries and identified 733 suspects. After breaking up the ring, criminal justice programs in the Philippines rescued 15 children between the ages of 6 and 15.

The Souther region of Cebu in the Philippines  has become a hotspot for children engaging on sex acts on webcams. In September 2013, a Filipino couple was arrested for forcing their 3 children to perform on webcams. They were charging customers $100 to view their children.

(More child trafficking statistics here.)

Source:  AFP, “Philippine child webcam abuse ring uncovered in police probe,” Google News, January 16, 2014.

The Polaris Project, an non-governmental organization, estimates that there are up to 54,000 human trafficking victims that are bought and sold in Japan each year.

In an article with the Bangkok Post, the report highlighted cases where women from the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea were trafficked to Japan in order to work in the prostitution industry.

In addition to women from foreign countries, girls and women from Japan are trafficked within the country. The Polaris Project states that domestic violence victims, single mothers and other women facing financial struggles are targeted. It was previously reported that minors were having sex with men for $100.

(More prices of human trafficking victims.)

Source:  “Activists demand action against human trafficking in Japan,” Bangkok Post, December 25, 2013.

Security officers with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines seized counterfeit goods worth a total of $174 Million (7.76 Billion Philippine Pesos) in 2013. The value of the fake goods seized in 2013 was higher than the $118 Million (5.27 Billion Pesos) seized in 2012.

Among the counterfeit items seized by criminal justice departments were replica handbagsclothing and counterfeit electronics.

Source:  Louella Desiderio, “Gov’t seizes 47% more fake items this year,” Philippine Star, December 22, 2013.

The Vietnam Tobacco Association states that over 100 different brands of cigarettes are smuggled into Vietnam each year. The brands Jet and Hero are the most popular, with the two brands consisting of over 90 percent of the smuggled tobacco in the country.

Roughly 20 percent of the country’s tobacco market is smuggled cigarettes. Most of the black market tobacco are smuggled into the country from China, Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Source:  “Vietnam Prepares For Rise In Cigarette Smuggling As New Year Festival Looms,” Bernama, November 13, 2013