Hookers rescued ‘against their will’ in Angeles City
MANILA, Philippines—A hundred female sex workers, some of whom displayed “V” tags indicating they were virgins, were rescued, and five foreigners were arrested, in raids on three night clubs in Angeles City Tuesday night, the police said Wednesday.
The Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said anti-human trafficking operatives rescued the women in successive raids on the Sunshine Bar, the Blue Nile and the Golden Nile night clubs along Fields Avenue in Barangay Balibago.
“The women don’t really consider it a rescue,” said CIDG Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) head Supt. Emma Libunao, who led the raids. “They kept cursing us, and tried their best to escape.”
She said the women had the same story: “They were mostly from Mindanao. They were promised jobs as factory worker, waitress or sales lady.”
Upon arriving in the city, “they would wait tables at first, then before long, they would start entertaining guests at the table,” Libunao recounted. She said she assumed that some of the rescued women were below 18. “Or they were taught to say they’re 18,” she said.
Undercover agents posing as customers were even offered the services of girls with the “V” labels.
“They called it ‘cherry popping.’ They’d say, ‘I’m a virgin so I’m more expensive,'” Libunao revealed, adding that one of the girls claimed she was only 16, and charged P100,000 for her favors.
The operation was conducted by combined forces of the Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the CIDG.
Earlier, the raid on the Sunshine Bar resulted in the rescue of 17 sex workers and the arrest of the floor manager, Terrence James Smith, an Australian. He was positively identified by one of the sex workers.
Libunao said the others arrested included three Americans and a Japanese, although one of the Americans had already been released. She did not identify them.
In a statement, the CIDG director, Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr., said the successive raids in Angeles City’s red light district bolstered the US government’s recognition of the Philippines’ commitment to combating human trafficking.
The Philippines has been taken off a watch list of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and elevated to Tier 2, a category of countries that do not fully comply with anti-trafficking standards but are making efforts to do so.
“Human trafficking in the country and elsewhere around the world has grave consequences for the safety, welfare and human rights of the women, men and children who are trafficked for the exploitation of their bodies and their labor,” Pagdilao said.
He said the CIDG was the lead police unit mandated to suppress, eradicate and prevent such illegal activities and would continue its conduct of surveillance operations and raids on “alleged untouchable sex joints and human trafficking dens” like those in Angeles