De Lima supports Senate probe on sex trafficking for POGO workers

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed strong support to the ongoing Senate inquiry into the supposed rising industry of underground prostitution, which is reportedly catering to Chinese nationals working for offshore gaming firms.

De Lima also commended the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros for leading the probe into the sex trafficking of women, including minors, to Chinese nationals.

“Tiwala po tayo na sa pangunguna ni Sen. Risa para imbestigahan ang nakababahalang paglaganap ng prostitusyon bunsod ng paglago ng mga POGO sa bansa,” she said.

“Tutukan nating maigi ang pagsisiyasat na ito upang makapaglatag ng agarang aksyon para masagip ang mga kababaihan, at mapanagot ang sindikatong sangkot sa mga kalakarang ito na lumalapastangan sa ating pambansang dangal,” she added.

During a Senate inquiry last Jan. 28, Hontiveros exposed chat groups where Filipino and Chinese women are being advertised for sexual services, disguised as massage appointments.

To stop the on-going sex trafficking of women, including minors, Hontiveros called for the immediate suspension of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operations to ensure that “safety nets are in place to protect our women and children.”

“I fully agree and support Senator Risa in pushing for a serious investigation into the social costs brought about by POGO-related gambling in the country,” the former justice secretary said.

“We should stop the continued trafficking of our women and children by syndicates who blatantly ignore our laws and treat women as commodities or food orders meant to be delivered for their enjoyment,” she stressed.

De Lima has always called to strengthen laws regulating firms under the POGO industry, determine the social costs of the surge of POGO employees and curb the rise in related crimes committed by Chinese nationals, including killings, kidnapping and torture.

In May 2018, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 751 that seeks to investigate the influx of Chinese nationals, both illegal and legal in the country. The immigration surge, she claims, steals employment opportunities from Filipinos and has triggered property surges in developed areas.

In Nov 2018, she filed SR No. 953 urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into what she called “loose regulatory policies” on the operations of casino-entertainment resorts, online gaming sites and junket casinos in the country.

It can also be recalled that in March 2019, she filed SR No. 1030 urging for a Senate probe into the alleged failure of many POGO employees to pay personal income taxes faithfully, resulting to revenue losses in the Philippine economy.

“Ang ipinagtataka natin: Bakit nga ba walang kangipin-ngipin ang gobyerno ni Duterte sa pagbabantay sa mga POGO at sa pagpapanagot sa mga anomalyang kinasasangkutan nito?” the lady Senator from Bicol said.

“Ano ba talagang ikinatatakot ni Duterte sa Tsina; mula sa usapin ng pang-aagaw sa ating teritoryo at mga pinapasok na kontrata ng gobyerno, hanggang sa pagkalat ng nakamamatay na epidemya, tila nakatali ang kanyang kamay at hawak siya sa leeg kaya’t laging inuuna pa ang interes ng mga dayuhan,” she added./Stacy Ang

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