Group says Macapagal airport used to smuggle women for sex

CLARK FREEPORT – A human trafficking syndicate has been using the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport here to bring women from Pampanga to Sandakan, Malaysia, where they are forced into prostitution, according to an official of a nongovernment organization.

The police issued an arrest warrant for the suspect, Cindy Garcia Zamora, last year but the recruitment continues to this day, said Susan Pineda, executive director of the Ing Makababaying Aksyon (Ima or Pro-Women Action) Foundation.

Recruitment was monitored in Mt. Pinatubo resettlement sites in Angeles City and Mabalacat, Pineda said.

Based on the accounts of five women rescued last year, the trafficking-for-prostitution syndicate operates as a labor-hiring agency.

Rape in Sandakan

In the case of the five women, one of whom was barely 17, they were promised jobs as waitresses. They were assured of $600 in monthly salary, including free travel fare, and board and lodging.

Upon arrival in Sandakan, they were reportedly taken to a house and raped there. They were then transferred to a brothel in a high-end subdivision operated by Chinese businessmen.

That brothel was packed with some 200 women, mostly from Pampanga.

A report of Ima Foundation on the case said the brothel caters to sailors of various nationalities. It is said that several brothels are run in the same village.

Backdoor return

The women are flown back to the Philippines through Zamboanga, it was learned.

Zamora had been arrested but she had since posted bail, reports gathered by the foundation said.

In a phone interview from Hong Kong, Clark International Airport Corp. president, Victor Jose Luciano said that while the issue was an immigration matter, “we cannot allow or tolerate that evil work in DMIA.”

“I’m calling a command conference upon my arrival to apply strict measures to protect our countrymen from becoming victims of human trafficking,” he said.

“DMIA authorities will never allow the airport as exit or entry point for human trafficking and in coordination with immigration and police authorities, we will ensure strict measures to implement the same,” said Luciano.

Poverty, lack of jobs

Some groups had blamed poverty in the Philippines as the main force that drives women into becoming victims of prostitution rings.

The lack of jobs was often cited as a major factor that made human trafficking a profitable underworld business in the country.


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