Cops raid Mactan KTV bar; 8 girls, 35 women rescued
By Ador Vincent S. Mayol
Cebu Daily News
7:41 am | Friday, January 20th, 2012
Police rescued 35 women and eight girls working in a KTV bar in Lapu-Lapu City last Wednesday.
Three suspected pimps, a cashier and a Korean manager were arrested after law enforcers barged into White Castle KTV past 10 a.m.
Charges for violating Republic Act 9208 or the Anti- trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 will be filed against them today.
An undercover policeman was used to act as a client.
Some foreign customers were waiting in the three-story building when police raiders arrived at White Castle KTV bar, which is about 200 meters from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Since some of the victims are minors, the offense falls under “qualified trafficking” which is nonbailable if evidence against them is strong.
The special law’s confidentiality provisions prohibit the identification of both the victims and the accused in the media.
Police agents were accompanied by representatives of the Department of Justice, the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas and the Regional Anti-Human Task Force.
The females were turned over to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas (DSWD-7).
The minors were aged 16 to 18 while the women are in their early 20s.
Their age was determined through their dental features but the DSWD-7 still has to check their birth certificates.
The International Justice Mission (IJM) is helping law enforcers prepare the complaint against the suspects.
The arrested persons declined to give a statement to Cebu Daily News and are detained for now in the Waterfront Police Station in Cebu City.
Senior Insp. Maria Theresa Macatangay said the RID received reports that White Castle KTV housed victims of human trafficking.
Police surveillance operations began November last year.
She said the sexual services of the females were offered to customers for P4,000 to P5,000.
The special law prohibits the “recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge… for the purpose of exploitation, prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation….”
The victims came from various parts of the country, including Cebu, Manila, Davao and Subic.
“They were just passive,” Macatangay said when asked about how the girls responded in the raid.
Shalaine Marie Sun-Lucero, chief of the operations division of DSWD-7, said the victims refused to be interviewed by the media.
“We let them pour out their emotions. They were angry that they were rescued. That’s normal. They are properly secued by DSWD,” Lucero told CDN.
When asked about their work inside the KTV bar, the victims, who were dressed in skimpy clothes, they just told social workers. “Naa ra mi diri (We’re just here).”
“I won’t dwell on their clothing. What is important is they were rescued,” Lucero said.
She said the adult females will be eventually released while the DSWD evaluates the minors
“We have to make an assessment. We will take into consideration the ability of parents to take care of the child,” she said.
The government has to make sure that the victims won’t go back to work in bars, she said.
IJM Cebu field office director Andrey Sawchenko hailed the first operation against human trafficking for this year.
“The cooperative action by the PNP, DOJ, and DSWD, sends a strong message that the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in 2012,” he said.
Four prosecutors were present during the operation-Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane and Cebu City Assistant Prosecutors Liceria Rabillas, Maria Luisa Ratilla, and Simaco Labata.
Our comment: I went past this place last Wednesday on the way from the airport. It is high and wide, set back from the road like an old townhall and yes, it is painted white. Mactan Island is a major resort for Koreans wanting to learn English with an American accent, and also for young families who seem to be well contained in secure resorts like the Imperial Hotel. Koreans operate many businesses on this island. However the operators of the castle seem not to have been well briefed on a couple of important aspects of Filipino culture:
1. Although the traditional Filipino idea of “underage” differs from that of western funded charities, there are limits that they do respect, particularly in public; and
2. Every successful business must be prepared to share its proceeds with the local officials. That is the Filipino way. Failure to comply will lead to harassment by means legal, as in this case, or illegal with official impunity (as in the unrelated case of the murder of Jun Arrogante in Daanbantayan http://sites.google.com/site/balitabantay/).
Other Korean businesses do comply and can achieve all sorts of magic in the Philippines. For example last Monday we were on Luzon driving back from Pagsanjan in the usual slow (about 45 kph) traffic when we were passed by two motorcycle policemen dressed in black waving the oncoming traffic to the side, then followed two tour coaches driving at about 80 kph taking the a whole lane on the wrong side. Naturally we fell in behind for while. Both coaches were from Anju tours. Money talks here.