Failon Ngayon: Human trafficking

by Santino Honasan, Multimedia producer, Failon Ngayon

Posted at Oct 15 2011 05:56 PM | Updated as of Oct 16 2011 08:49 AM

What seemed to be a normal, broken down, old house was really a Casa.

For years now, the Philippines has been on the US Government’s watch list for human trafficking. The Philippines has been Tier 2 since 2001, and runs the risk of becoming a Tier 3 country. If that happens, the US Government cuts by half the aid that they give the Philippines.

It comes as no surprise because the Philippines seems to be an active perpetrator of human trafficking violations. There are Casas and Cybersex dens all around, and while there have already been 134 raid operations just this year, these kinds of places just keep popping back up.

Looks Can Be Decieving

In Barangay Palanan, Makati, an old, rundown and beat up house can be seen. At first look, a person would think nothing of it. Upon closer inspection however, things become different.

The insides of the house are far better looking than the outside because it serves as a Casa or a whorehouse. Complete with sofas, expensive looking vases, and red lighting to set the mood, the reception area of the Casa must look presentable to its clients which include foreigners. The main attraction of the Casa is the selection of girls who can be “taken out” for the small amount of P3000 pesos.

From an anonymous tip, Failon Ngayon did some surveillance work on the said house and was able to confirm that the house was indeed a Casa.

August 22, 2011, two days after surveillance, the CIDG Women’s and Children’s protection division led by P/Supt. Emma Libunao proceeded to raid the Casa. 60 women were rescued from the house. Along with the women, a doorman and two other employees from the casa were also taken into custody.

Not surprising was that the owner of the Casa was not around. According to one of the Casa’s employees, the owner did not frequent the place. They claim to have never seen the owner.

A lot of the women rescued from the raid were from Visayas and Mindanao. Some knew of the work that they were getting into, others didn’t.

False promises

"Eunice" came to Manila with hopes of being a model, but ended up in a Casa
One of the women rescued from the Casa was 24 year old “Eunice”. A native of Davao, Eunice came to Manila with hopes of giving her siblings a better future. What encouraged her was a promise from a recruiter, saying that she would become a model.

What she thought would be promotion work turned out to be work in a Casa. Admittedly, she did not know what she was getting into.

“Naka-display na ako, kasi akala ko nga promotion, modelling... (I was already being displayed. I thought it was promotional work, modelling...)”

She wanted to leave but was not allowed, and was told that she was already paid for.

Because of the work that she was forced to do, she has already thought of herself differently, but she has not given up on giving her family and her siblings a better life. She now wants to go back to her home province of Davao where she can start anew and forget the life she had in Manila as an escort working for a Casa.

What happens next?

The Casa found in Makati should have ceased operations and should have been turned over to Makati police and the baranggay officials. A few days after the raid however, the Casa seemed to be setting up to resume operations.

P/Supt. Libunao believes that society has accepted the existence of such places and the work itself. She states that it’s fuelled by the society’s view of the woman being a commodity as well as an easy escape from poverty. A lot of human trafficking victims agree to do the work in order to have money and support their families.

Will it ever end?

With all the executed raids just this year, why is it that human trafficking does not seem to cease in the country?

According to the Department of Justice’s records, there are 1171 cases of violation of the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or RA 9208. There have been 11 acquitted cases, 130 archived Cases, 183 dismissed cases, and 130 cases were dismissed in the Preliminary investigations as compared to the 44 convicted cases.

The wide margin between those convicted and those who are acquitted or dismissed is visible in these statistics. Most of the time, the ones convicted are also not the masterminds or the owners.

According to the DOJ also, it’s hard to get witnesses against human traffickers which is why most of these cases are slow to progress. Another reason is that in some cases, human trafficking is confused with illegal recruitment, which has fewer consequences as compared to the former.

Human Trafficking is a sad reality not only in our country, but all over the world. Unless those behind it are put behind bars, this abuse of human life may never completely end.

“HUMAN TRAFFICKING “ aired on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

You can catch Failon Ngayon every Saturday, 4:45 pm on ABS-CBN and replays every Sunday, 2:00pm on ANC.