Mostly from Mindanao, trafficked women ended up in some videoke bars in Bohol.
The recruiters or “talent scouts” actually came from Bohol and work for local videoke bars as floor managers or assistants to the floor managers.
The disclosure came from the “willing victims” themselves, most of them have been hooked in drugs.
The practice has thrived for over a decade already and some of the trafficked women managed to get out of the trade and settled with men here, without them realizing they had been sneaked into the province as trafficked women.
“Neneng” (not her real name) disclosed that a “mamasang”, the name they call floor managers of bars, had gone to their city in Mindanao and offered them jobs in Bohol.
Another trafficked woman had the same story to tell, but said her parents taught she was working for a resort in Bohol.
To lure the women, the recruiter would offer an advance of their salaries, a portion of which they can leave to their families before going to Bohol.
Some of the women said they happened to entertain men who were into the drug trade and would sell them shabu.
At times, the shabu was for free if any of them joining the pot session would provide extra service, the lingo for sexual favor.
These concerns cropped up in a recent forum on anti-trafficking in persons in Bohol.
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons law took effect in 2003 as Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
The law is intended to eliminate trafficking in persons especially women and children and to establish the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons, providing penalties for its violations.
The law defines trafficking in persons as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs”.
It is also the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation…even if it does not involve any of the means” present in usual cases.
The most common qualifying factor in most cases is the “taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person” and “for the purpose of prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation”.
Under the law, it is unlawful to: to recruit, transport, transfer; harbor, provide, or receive a person by any means, including those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage; to introduce or match for money, profit, or material, economic or other consideration, any person, any Filipino woman to a foreign national, for marriage for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling or trading him/her to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage; to offer or contract marriage, real or simulated, for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling, or trading them to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor or slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.
It is also unlawful to undertake or organize tours and travel plans consisting of tourism packages or activities for the purpose of utilizing and offering persons for prostitution, pornography or sexual exploitation; to maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography; to adopt or facilitate the adoption of persons for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage; to recruit, hire, adopt, transport or abduct a person, by means of threat or use of force, fraud, deceit, violence, coercion, or intimidation for the purpose of removal or sale of organs of said person; and to recruit, transport or adopt a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad.
The law also punishes acts that promote trafficking in persons as it declares unlawful to knowingly lease or sublease, use or allow to be used any house, building or establishment for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons; to produce, print and issue or distribute unissued, tampered or fake counseling certificates, registration stickers and certificates of any government agency which issues these certificates and stickers as proof of compliance with government regulatory and pre-departure requirements for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons.
As other ways of promoting trafficking in persons, the law also provides that it is unlawful to advertise, publish, print, broadcast or distribute, or cause the advertisement, publication, printing, broadcasting or distribution by any means, including the use of information technology and the internet, of any brochure, flyer, or any propaganda material that promotes trafficking in persons; to assist in the conduct of misrepresentation or fraud for purposes of facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary exit documents from government agencies that are mandated to provide pre-departure registration and services for departing persons for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons; to facilitate, assist or help in the exit and entry of persons from/to the country at international and local airports, territorial boundaries and seaports who are in possession of unissued, tampered or fraudulent travel documents for the purpose of promoting trafficking in persons; to confiscate, conceal, or destroy the passport, travel documents, or personal documents or belongings of trafficked persons in furtherance of trafficking or to prevent them from leaving the country or seeking redress from the government or appropriate agencies.
It is also a way of promoting trafficking in persons to knowingly benefit from, financial or otherwise, or make use of, the labor or services of a person held to a condition of involuntary servitude, forced labor, or slavery.