Problem of prostitution

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    LAST Wednesday night, the Makati police raided a unit at the K&K Building on Evangelista St., Barangay Pio del Pilar which they found out was being used as a prostitution den. The police arrested three young men, all Chinese, running the prostitution business. Foreign female sex workers – two Russians, two Vietnamese and 9 Chinese – were rescued. Earlier, a police asset, also a Chinese, was able to gain entry into the establishment by paying P22,000 to the maintainer of the place.

    Makati police chief Col. Rogelio Simon said this place on Evangelista St. is the sixth sex den they have raided in recent weeks. What needs explaining is that fact the police found this establishment in full operation – with customers and sex workers and all – when in fact 11 days earlier, it had been raided by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation and presumably the maintainers and owners had been sued for their illegal activities. Our law enforcement agencies and local government officials have a lot of explaining to do about this.

    Police and media reports say the presence of a thriving prostitution business that caters exclusively for foreigners, mostly Chinese, is not confined to Makati. Nearby cities of Paranaque, Las Pinas, Pasay and Manila reportedly also hosts this nefarious trade.

    At a Senate committee hearing, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the sex business here has gone one notch more creative and discreet: Chinese den operators now offer their “products” via online messaging applications. Hontiveros told her colleagues that online prostitution became widely used following the influx of Chinese workers employed in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations. Her panel in the Upper House, the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, is in the thick of discussions on Senate Resolution 131 which seeks to introduce measures to address POGO-related sexual trafficking activities in Metro Manila and Cebu City.

    Many were aghast at Sen. Hontiveros’ revelations. The girls and their services were like wares that are on sale online. The sexual services are on the menu, and customers are allowed to choose what fancies them. Women are being ordered through an app by Chinese men who are members of a chat group. It is similar to the Grabfood app which posts the restaurant’s menu and their meal and food prices, to be delivered right at your doorstep.

    A report from the Senate said Hontiveros flashed screenshots from alleged chat groups showing a message with “extra job” home services of Chinese women for a low of P3,000 to as high as P12,000 per hour. Other chat groups offer Russian and Korean women whose services are more expensive: P13,000 per hour to P45,000 for overnight service. The customers are mostly Chinese, but there are also Japanese, Korean, and Indian clients, according to the lady senator.

    Note that a raid on Evangelista St., Barangay Pio del Pilar in Makati last Wednesday involved the rescue of Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese sex workers, lending credence to the Hontiveros narrative. Yet, the response of Malacanang Palace is a tepid “we will investigate if it is true.”

    Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo told a press briefing in the Palace, “We will have that investigated. If that’s true, then we have to do something about it.”

    We believe the Filipino people deserve to be given not just a cursory “Noted, we will look into it” reply to this problem. After all, it is the national government through the PAGCOR that encouraged the proliferation of POGOs, and this offshore gaming resulted in crimes like kidnapping, murder, physical injuries and prostitution among foreigners themselves to happen in our land.

    Yes, the nation was able to generate some revenues from the operations of the POGOs, although there are colorums operating here and there. But the concomitant problems of criminal activities seem hard to lick.