Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday urged local officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate an alleged Chinese-run prostitution ring discovered in the premises of a resort in Clark, Pampanga.
Hontiveros, in a statement, also urged the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) to look into the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino after the police arrested several Chinese and Vietnamese allegedly involved in human tracking and prostitution at three of the resort’s residential villas.
A total of seven Chinese men, six Chinese women and two Vietnamese women were brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City on Wednesday. They are facing charges of human trafficking.
“Habang nahihirapan tayong mga Pilipino sa Covid-19 pandemic, may mga Chinese prostitution rings naman na patuloy pa rin ang operasyon,” said Hontiveros, head of the Senate Committee of Women.
The senator said the resort management should finally be held accountable for the illegal operations in its facilities, pointing out that this was not the resort’s first involvement with illegal activities involving the Chinese.
“Bakit parang nagiging pugad ng underground illegal activities itong Fontana?” she asked.
Hontiveros cited the May 18 raid of the resort, where two Chinese men were apprehended for running an underground hospital and pharmacy for workers of Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators suspected of having the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Clark officials have ordered the closure and full lockdown of Fontana Leisure Park inside the Clark Freeport. This illegal activity not only violates the law, but also poses danger to individuals who potentially need medical treatment for the deadly disease. CDC does not and will never tolerate this inside the Clark Freeport,” the CDC said in a statement during the resort’s temporary closure after the incident.
Hontiveros also recalled the shutdown of 15 casino rooms in Fontana back in December 2016 following the arrest of 1,300 illegal Chinese workers inside the resort.
A women’s group has expressed concern that the region’s officials might be “instutionalizing” human trafficking due to its profitability.
“It’s because prostitution has been institutionalized. The local government has done everything that virtually legalized prostitution because there’s big money there,” said Susan Pineda, executive director and president of Ing Makababaing Aksyon Foundation Inc. Carlito P. Topacio