MANILA: National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police have arrested nearly 300 Chinese sex workers and their clients in raids on 12 brothels in six cities in the second half of last year.
An NBI source who took part in one of the raids described the brothels – whose customers, prostitutes, managers, and owners are all thought to come from mainland China – to This Week in Asia as a “new development”.
Agents believe all the raided premises were being run by mainland Chinese, for Chinese clients.
According to the Philippine media company ABS-CBN, the managers were jailed and would be charged with human trafficking, “a non-bailable offense”, and that cases would be filed against the owners, who were not caught “because they are outside the country”.
The Chinese women, whom he described as “young, maybe 18 to 30 years”, were sent to shelters, their passports confiscated and referred to the immigration bureau. The customers were not arrested, but their passport details were also sent to the immigration bureau.
The source said several government agencies had been taking action against Chinese prostitution rings.
He described the brothel his team raided as a “huge” establishment that had a permit to operate as a karaoke bar.
“We didn’t know there was prostitution happening there,” he added, saying a tip-off had been received from Chinese and Filipino informants. “There were concerned Chinese nationals who came to us and told us, ‘you should check this out’,” he said.
The sudden proliferation of Chinese prostitution is tied to the explosive growth of Philippine offshore gaming operators, or Pogos, online gambling companies based in the Philippines that cater to players in China, where gambling is illegal.
Brigadier-General Dennis Agustin, head of the Philippine National Police Cyber Fraud Division, said a “China desk” would soon be set up to help Philippine police address the rising number of crimes involving Chinese nationals.
Ang-See said that “the tentacles [of Chinese crime] are reaching everywhere because of the illegal aliens, the majority of whom are in the Pogos”.
(with inputs from Agencies)