Rise in sex trafficking coincides with POGO boom — NGO
MANILA, Philippines — A resource person at the Tuesday morning Senate hearing on recent prostitution ring busts said that the uncovered sex trafficking operations are definitely related to the influx of Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators.
The hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, seeks to “examine the circumstances that push women to work under exploitative conditions with the end in view of crafting legislation and policies that will address the root cause that drove these women into employment that does not respect and fully utilize their potential.”
Sherryl Loseno, operations manager at the Visayan Forum Foundation Incorporated, said that the connection to POGOs is undeniable since the prostitution rings cater exclusively to foreign clients.
“Wala po akong eksaktong o reliable data talaga dito… malaking factor yung POGO doon sa paglaganap ng prostitution dito sa Pilipinas kasi nga kumbaga yung Chinese customers, mga Chinese girls din yung kinukuha nila ng mga clients,” Loseno said.
(While I don’t have exact or reliable data in connection to this, POGOs play a huge factor in the proliferation of prostitution in the Philippines because they cater to Chinese customers, with Chinese girls being availed by clientele.)
“And yung mga girls naman natin dito sa Pilipinas, usually Chinese din yung nagiging customers nila, katulad po ng case nila (alias) Carina/Karina na exclusive yung company na napasukan niya sa mga foreign nationals. So hindi nila tinatangkilik yung mga Filipino customers.”
(And for girls from the Philippines, they usually have Chinese customers too, like the case of 15-year-old alias Carina/Karina where their company is exclusive to foreign nationals. So they don’t cater to Filipino customers.)
Loseno said that aside from Chinese POGO workers, customers also included Japanese and a Saudi Arabian national.
Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 131 in September 2019 in response to a string of sex rings discovered in raids.
A series of alleged Chinese-run prostitution rings fronting as business establishments in Metro Manila were raided in September and October last year, leading to the rescue of over a hundred sex workers.
“Hindi pwedeng nagiging pugad tayo ng Chinese prostitution dens…’Pag nakikita ko sa TV ang mga babaeng nahuhuli sa raid na punong puno ng hiya at takot, isa lang ang tumatakbo sa isip ko: this girl is someone’s daughter. And we have failed her,” Hontiveros said in her opening statement.
(We can’t be a haven for Chinese prostitution dens…Whenever I see on TV that women are apprehended in a raid, full of fear and shame, only one thing crosses my mind: this girl is someone’s daughter. And we have failed her.)
The senator is currently looking into the suspension of all POGO operations in the Philippines, and has urged the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to hold an immediate crackdown on POGO-related sex rings throughout the country.
NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin also previously said that there is a correlation between the boom of POGO operators and the existence of Chinese sex rings.
“This is one of the crimes related to POGO. When you bring a lot of them here, these syndicates cater to their needs,” he said.