No reply from Chinese Embassy on POGO sex trade — Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — What will China do about its women who are lured into the flesh trade in the Philippines?
Sen. Risa Hontiveros has so far received no answer from the Chinese Embassy in Manila to that question.
Hontiveros on Tuesday said she had sought the help of Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian in providing care and assistance to Chinese women who had been rescued from prostitution rings, particularly those that cater to workers of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
Since last year, more than 140 women prostituted by syndicates, many of them Chinese, have been rescued by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Hontiveros exposed the food delivery style of providing prostitutes to Pogo workers in a series of Senate hearings in January and February.
The flesh traders priced the sexual services they offered based on the nationality of the prostitutes and the length of time clients would spend with them.
Letter to Huang
In a letter to Huang on Feb. 17, Hontiveros sought the embassy’s views on ways to provide for the needs of the prostituted Chinese women.
There has been no response from the embassy as of Tuesday, she told reporters and editors of the Inquirer.
“A clear policy gap that has been identified during our first hearing is the postrescue care of Chinese women who were victimized by prostitution rings,” Hontiveros said in her letter to Huang.
She asked the embassy to share its “perspective on how best to address these issues” so that the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, which she heads, could come up with policy recommendations and new laws to help Chinese women victimized by sex traffickers.
Hontiveros also asked for a meeting with the ambassador’s staff to discuss the matter further.
She said NBI agents had also reported a seeming lack of action on the part of the Chinese Embassy to help the rescued women.
During the Senate hearing on the operation of the prostitution rings in January, NBI Deputy Director Vicente de Guzman III said the bureau’s agents had suggested that they turn over the rescued victims to the Chinese authorities in Manila, but they received no response from the embassy.
Later, a group of Chinese Embassy officers visited the NBI and said they wanted to collaborate with the agency in dealing with transnational crimes, said De Guzman.
Hontiveros said that as a result of a lack of proper care that the rescued Chinese women received from their government, some of them were “recycled,” or worked for another prostitution ring.
She cited testimonies by NBI officials who said at least one of the women they had earlier saved from a prostitution den was rescued a second time.
There was also an instance when a Chinese lawyer, who identified himself to authorities as a relative of a group of rescued women, took custody of the women, she said.
No complete data
Hontiveros said that what had complicated the foreign prostitution problem was the absence of complete data on the victims.
She said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) did not have or could not present “disaggregated” data on Chinese women entering the country, particularly those who appear to be potential victims of sex trafficking—single women traveling alone for the first time—especially if they entered the country with a “visa upon arrival.”
The BI records also do not indicate whether these women have already left the country or not, she added.
“There are so many gaps on the status, condition and well-being of these women,” she said.
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