Pacquiao plugs CNN docu on Manila prostitution

By Camille Diola, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 24 2013 08:52 PM | Updated as of May 25 2013 04:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao promoted on Friday the encore airing of CNN's full-length documentary The Fighters featuring a woman's fight against sex trafficking in Manila.

The documentary, a result of two years of undercover work in the capital city's red light district, was first shown over CNN International Channel last May 17 and 18, but will return on June 1 and 2 in 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. airings.

Pacquiao, whom the film features as among the lawmakers who sought a stronger measure against sex trafficking, urged his Twitter followers to watch the 80-minute documentary made available in full online.

"Please watch. It is important," he said.

The Fighters looks in-depth at the Manila trafficking industry following the life and advocacy of Visayan Forum Foundation executive director Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, a warrior against sex slavery, and the girls and women she rescued.

Omebanda tapped Pacquiao's help to champion the cause against trafficking as "the toughest fight that he will wage in his entire life," she said, adding that unlike boxing, the war to stop sex trade especially of minors lasts "beyond 12 rounds."

Journalist Leif Coorlim, executive director CNN Freedom Project that produced the film, called the phenomenon of trafficking and cyber sex in the country "scary," "sickening" and "incredibly hard for law enforcement to stop."

"In a country like the Philippines, nothing ever is as it seems," Coorlim said in the video, citing a district in Makati where "many trafficking victims wind up."

The government has said that there are currently 800,000 people involved in the illegal sex industry, about 100,000 of which are children and minors.