Law: Philippines


The Australian Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has prepared a section in the Smartraveller website with a list of important legal information to be mindful of when visiting the Philippines:

  • You are subject to the local laws of Philippines, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can’t get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
  • Judicial process in the Philippines can be very lengthy, with some court cases taking years to complete. During this time authorities may place restrictions on international travel. Australians who are accused of crimes can find themselves in financial and other difficulties while their case is ongoing and may not be able to depart the Philippines until the process has been concluded.
  • Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
  • Penalties for drug offences are severe. Police and other authorities have been publicly encouraged to kill drug traffickers and have been told they will be rewarded for doing so. Senior political figures have stated that drug addicts should also be killed. Such killings have taken place. Possession of even small amounts of any illicit drug in the Philippines attracts mandatory jail sentences.
  • It is illegal to take photographs of official buildings for publication.
  • Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
  • The Philippines also has strong laws against child sex crimes and human trafficking. A number of foreign nationals, including Australians, have been detained and prosecuted for these offences in the Philippines.

Smartraveller [ONLINE],, 30 November 16.

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