MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros has called on the public to help her probe a supposed scheme to traffic Filipinos abroad for prostitution, as she claimed to have found "solid leads."
Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women and Children, said the panel has details on the outbound trafficking and will partner with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman "to put a stop to this."
"Sa mga kasabwat pero maaaring sa puntong ito ay gustong tumulong sa trabaho ng aming komite, I have a call to action for them…May oras pa kayo na tumulong para pabilisin ang pagtugis sa mga mastermind nito," she told ANC's Headstart.
"Patunayan natin na hindi one-stop shop ng korapsyon ang ating mga institusyon at hindi tayo papayag na abusuhin ang ating mga babae’t mga bata," she said.
(To the accomplices who at this point might want to help with the committee's job, I have a call to action. You have time to help and stop the masterminds behind this. Let's prove that our institutions are not one-stop shops for corruption and that we will not allow abuses against women and children.)
The committee initially investigated the rescue of human trafficking victims which was allegedly connected to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO). It eventually uncovered supposed bribery schemes at the Bureau of Immigration that churned out billions of pesos.
Hontiveros said of the 4 million Chinese people who traveled to the country since 2017, about 3 million paid P10,000 each to immigration personnel through the "pastillas" scheme. Another 150,000 tourists paid about P12,000 each to enter the country through the "visa upon arrival" scheme.
"I have no problem in principle, of course, with foreign nationals, Chinese and otherwise, na pumupunta dito, para sa turismo man, trabaho—lahat ng legal na personal at professional na mga dahilan," she said.
(I have no problem in principle, of course, with foreign nationals, Chinese and otherwise, coming here for tourism or for work—for all legal personal or professional reasons.)
"As long as foreign nationals, Chinese and otherwise, follow the laws of the Philippines, respect the rights of Filipinos, they are always welcome here—basta sumunod sa batas natin at respetuhin at hindi labagin yung karapatan nating mga Pilipino (just follow our laws and respect and don't violate our rights as Filpinos)," she added.