Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Hundreds of Chinese sex workers and brothel managers rounded up in raids described by the authorities as a ‘new development’Rising vice cases are being linked to the online gambling companies that employ hundreds of thousands of often-undocumented Chinese workers
Prostitution: supposedly, it is the oldest profession in the world, yet a sudden new development in the sex trade has left Philippine law enforcers scratching their heads: the rise of Chinese prostitutes catering exclusively to Chinese customers.Nearly 300 Chinese sex workers and their clients were rounded up in raids by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police on 12 brothels in six cities in the second half of last year, the Philippine media company ABS-CBN reported this week. Agents believe all the raided premises were being run by mainland Chinese, for Chinese clients.
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”.
He said the managers were jailed and would be charged with human trafficking, “a non-bailable offence”, and that cases would be filed against the owners, who were not caught “because they are outside the country”.
A Chinese crime wave hits Duterte’s Philippines as Pogos grow unchecked
An upswing in licences for offshore gaming firms has seen the Philippines become a ‘haven for Chinese criminals and criminal syndicates’With 67 gambling-related kidnappings since 2017, why is the Duterte administration having trouble cracking down on the situation?
On the night of December 9 in Manila’s posh Makati district, a woman was pulled screaming into a van, which zoomed away in view of shocked witnesses. Police later identified the victim as Zhou Mei, from China – and the kidnappers were fellow nationals, making the case the latest in a long string of abductions involving and perpetrated by mainland Chinese.
Nearly all the cases can be linked directly to Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), which are locally based but cater to gamblers in China, where the activity is illegal.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) began issuing Pogo licences after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, as his administration expected to take in billions in taxes from online gaming companies and casinos. In the process, however, the country has become a new frontier for illicit activity.
“The Philippines is becoming a haven for Chinese criminals and criminal syndicates,” said Teresita Ang-See, chair of the anti-crime watchdog Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order.
There have been 67 gambling-related kidnappings since 2017, with nearly all the victims Chinese, according to the Philippine National Police Anti-kidnapping Group (PNP AKG). Ang-See, however, said the figure was much higher than that. “Before, it was once a month, twice a month, then it became once a week, twice a week. [Now] it’s two to three cases involving Chinese everyday in Metro Manila.”
Typically, the victims are targets of scams, enticed to come to the Philippines and gamble in casinos, or they are Pogo employees. They are often loaned money to gamble, with the lender taking a cut of the winnings. Should the players lose the stake, they are abducted and released only when relatives pay a ransom.