Government's intensified efforts against human trafficking has resulted in the arrest of an American operating a night club which is a front for prostitution, and the rescue of 16 women in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Elements from the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Desk, Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (PNP-WCPD-RIDMD3), Philippine National Police Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Special Operation Group 3 (PNP-RAHTSOG3), Regional Public Safety Company Battalion 3 (RPSB3), joined by officials from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the International Justice Mission (IJM) raided the club in the evening of May 22, and arrested Jonathan Westlie Kelly and pimps Cherry Datu and Carlota Dela Rosa.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) will file cases against the American owner and 6 other suspects for violation of RA 9208 (“Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”) as amended by RA 10364 (“Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012”) and RA 7610 (“Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”).
Acting on the intelligence reports from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency region 3 (NICA3), the composite team headed by Police Supt. Jacqueline Puapo, conducted surveillance operations which confirmed that the Eager Beaver Club located at Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles was offering minors for sex to patrons. Kelly was identified by the rescued women as the “Australian” owner of the club but the business permit shows it is registered under another name. They also recommended preliminary investigation and filing of cases against four (4) other persons yet to be arrested, including another foreigner.
Two (2) of the victims were confirmed minors. According to the sworn statements of the victims, they were being offered for sex in exchange for P2000 bar fine. All of the rescued victims also admitted that they were underpaid, between P130-160 per day.
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, chair of IACAT, said the raid is part of government’s relentless efforts to curb the evils of human trafficking. “We will continue this fight for the victims, who are usually the poorest of our people, regardless if it happens here or abroad or if it involves local or foreign offenders” de Lima added.
Jose Vicente Salazar, undersecretary in charge of IACAT, warned bar owners against employing minors and engaging in the sex trade, saying violators will be meted the full weight of the law as the country will go full steam ahead in eradicating human trafficking in the country.
“Human trafficking has no place in a just and humane society, rest assured we will stay the course until we are able to eradicate it," Salazar said.