JANUARY 28, 2020 — The recent boom in the offshore gaming operations in the country was blamed for the rise of prostitution dens catering to Chinese workers, lawmakers learned about this during a Senate inquiry on Tuesday.
Officials from a non-government organization (NGO) and law enforcement agency told senators the problem on the influx of Chinese women believed to be engaged prostitution has surfaced with the mushrooming of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).
But they could not provide a definite number of Chinese women in the country. The POGOs usually hire male workers, the market for Chinese women.
“Malaking factor yung POGO sa paglaganap ng prostitution dito sa Pilipinas kasi nga ‘yung Chinese customers, mga Chinese girls din yung kinukuha nila ng mga clients,” said Sherryl Loseno of the Visayan Forum Foundation Incorporated .
Loseno said the sex dens, operating in some hotels and high-rise condominiums, do not only offer Chinese women to POGO workers. There are also some Filipino women.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), responding to a query from Senator Franklin Drilon, said the proliferation of sex dens was noticed only after POGOs were set up in the country.
“Based on the experience of the NBI, we only experienced these kinds of activities when POGOs [were] created” said NBI Deputy Director Vicente De Guzman.
“A lot of Chinese employees of POGO are the ultimate clients of these prostitution dens.”
He said shared the same observation of Losena in saying the sex dens caters only to Chinese customers.
WOMEN FOR ORDER
Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate panel on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said sex dens offer a menu of services based on information gathered during law enforcement raids on prostitution houses.
She said the “menus,” included photos of trafficked Chinese women and listed packages of varying rates, duration, and even services.
The business were usually conducted through online messaging apps, according to Hontiveros.
She said sex is offered similar to the method of booking transport, food, and other services by mobile apps.
“‘Yung mga babae, parang ino-order lang sa app… Parang GrabFood—may menu at presyo then darating lang sa hotel o condo mo,” Hontiveros said.
One of the victims of prostitution dens had shared her experience after she was recruited to work at a massage parlor.
In a sworn statement, she said they were told to offer “massage with extra service” to Chinese customers.
The 15-year-old victim, who was only identified as “Carina,” said a 14-year-old victim contracted a sexually transmitted disease and was immediately sent back to work upon recovering from it.
Hontiveros has sought the suspension of POGOs in the country after several sex dens were raided in September and October 2019.
The NBI has also ordered a crackdown against POGO-related prostitution dens in the Philippines.
There are an estimated 500,000 POGO workers in the country.
The sex dens offer services ranging from 10,000 pesos to 50,000 pesos.
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