An Australian bar owner in Angeles City, Terence Smith, is facing life in prison for ‘Human Trafficking’, the latest UN approved buzz word for pimping. Despite no doubt running the bar for many years, he has only now been arrested and the bar closed. Following this and some other show case raids against foreigners, the US took the Philippines off its list of countries not doing enough to fight human trafficking… and of course reinstated millions of dollars of funds.
Angeles City has dozens of bars where patrons can pay a ‘bar fine’, euphemistically called an ‘early work release’ so the GRO or Guest Relations Officer (hostess) may leave work early and go on a date with the patron. Sex is not guaranteed as afterall, this is a proud catholic country where prostitution is illegal. So why out of all the bars there did they swoop on Smith’s? Obviously he failed to pay the corrupt police enough money. These are the same police that framed the late John Martin on ridiculous drug trafficking charges a decade ago.
So what about the other bars? What about the thousands of bars owned by prominent Filipinos catering purely to Filipino clientele? What about the parents selling off their children to pedophiles and middle men? What about the evil Arab employers in teh Middle East that rape and beat Filipina house maids? Well, they are not as easy a target as a foreigner running a bar, employing dozens of locals and putting money back into the economy.
Calling prostitution ‘human trafficking’ is only accurate if the prostitutes are unwilling participants, surely? While technically yes, they are being trafficked in one respect, the sad reality is too many have few other options for employment. While the catholic church continues its medieval enforcement of no contraception laws the population continues to explode well beyond the country’s capacity to sustain the growth. The rich don’t care as they send their kids overseas and continue to make money from the poor. Many prostitutes actually enjoy the attention and the income and the lifestyle, seeing it as a sure fire way to meet a foreigner who they can marry and use to leave this all behind, then help their family from abroad. If nothing else it is not a one size fits all situation with the solution lock up the bar owners.
One can not moralize against the bar owners and the patrons without also moralizing against the girls who choose to seek work in this industry. Unlike horror stories of prostitutes in Europe being trafficked from Eastern Europe, drugged and treated abominally by pimps, the bar girls are much better taken care of, at least in the foreigner owned bars. The cases of rape by clients, bar owners and the police are out there but rarely investigated as it would require taking action against prominent Filipinos, many with political connections and all with money. And in this, as in any country, money certainly talks.
Make no mistake, the authorities have supported these bars for many years with officials patronising them and enjoying the free services offered, as well as cash payments. To say otherwise is to be naive and deny what is widely known. Smith is a scape goat, one of many foreigner scape goats sacrificed on the altar of US Aid, tied to paying lip service to whatever the latest UN buzz word is this month.