Filipina teens pimped to Chinese expats, some on WeChat: Senate probe

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2020 12:32 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2020 02:09 PM

Authorities rescue women from a prostitution den masquerading as a health spa in San Juan. October 10, 2019. Gerard Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- A Filipina teenager told lawmakers on Tuesday that she was tricked into prostitution that caters to Chinese expatriates and other foreigners, as a Senate panel started investigating a nascent sex trade.

Some of the girls are pimped on the Chinese super app WeChat using codes such as "new tea" for girls and "fast food" for quickie sex to evade Beijing's censors, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who chairs the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

Some offer Chinese women for P10,000 per hour and Russian or Korean women overnight for P32,000 and P45,000, Hontiveros said, presenting screenshots from the alleged chat groups.

The 16-year-old witness, who used the pseudonym Karina, said a friend recruited her to work as a masseuse in the massage parlor owned by a Chinese man and his Filipina wife.

"Minsan pupunta kami sa condo, minsan sa hotel tapos pagkatapos namin magmasahe, mag-ooffer kami ng extra service na ibig sabihin makikipagtalik kami," said Karina, who wore a hoodie, a face mask and a pair of sunglasses to conceal her face.

(Sometimes we go to condominiums, sometimes in hotels. After the massage, we will offer extra service, which means sex.)

The customer, usually Chinese nationals, pays the girls between P3,000 and P7,000, half of which will be given to the massage parlor owner she said, Karina said.

The Philippines in recent years saw rise in the number of Chinese expatriates, who work mostly in offshore gaming operations, called POGOs by local authorities.

Karina also recalled having Japanese, Korean, and Indian clients. The youngest of some 9 girls in the Makati City massage parlor was 14-year-old Shaira, she said.

Some of the girls, including Shaira, left the massage parlor in September last year when she got sick, Karina said.

“Pinagamot naman po pero tumakas na po siya kasi hindi na po kaya. Kasi kahit po may sakit, nilalakad pa din po sa mga customer,” she said.

(They had Shaira treated but she escaped because she couldn't take it anymore. Even while she was sick, they still pimped her.)

The committee is looking into new policies - including stricter visa requirements for Chinese nationals - to curb the trafficking of women, Hontiveros said.

Most of the foreign prostitutes rescued in Makati hold tourist visas, Makati Police investigation unit chief Major Gideon Ines said. The women's handlers hold their passports, he said.

Authorities will look into reports that some foreign prostitutes have entered the country using visa upon arrival stamps, he said.