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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FROM hushed conversations in nightspots to loud deliberations in the provincial board of Aklan, prostitution in Boracay Island has caught the attention of government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs).

The thriving sex trade in the island-resort was revealed during a briefing on the effects of tourism on children in Boracay last week.

The Aklan Provincial Technical Working Group and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s committees on laws, health, and women sponsored the briefing.

The End Child Labor Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), an NGO that combats child prostitution, presented a report on the extent of child prostitution.

The ECPAT report – Situational Analysis of the Effects of Tourism on Children in Boracay – claimed that six bars and resorts in Boracay Island are tolerating child prostitution.

ECPAT also said that some of these alleged child prostitutes are residents of the island who are driven to sell their bodies due to poverty.

The study found that the girls frequent nightspots in the island bars and show themselves off to potential clients through sexy or dirty dancing or simply hanging out in the bar.

“While it is a fact that tourism in Boracay has obviously brought in money for the government, it too has its social costs. Boracay attracts not just responsible tourists who compose the majority, but also visitors whose purpose to travel is to exploit and engage in sexual activities involving children. This situation in turn makes other children in Boracay highly at risk due to exposure to the trade,” the ECPAT report said.

MINORS                         

Another study on commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Boracay cited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) identified 11 young women and three boys most of whom were actively involved in the sex trade.

Of the 11, five were minors, aged between 14 and 17, at the time of the interview. All 14 of them claimed they were sold by a pimp to a foreign client. All children said their first sexual abuses happened when they were 11-15 years old.

Some 337,666 tourists arrived in Boracay January to May 2009, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

Koreans constitute the largest number of these tourists at 30,369. They are also among the most frequent sex tourist clients based on ECPAT’s interview with child prostitutes.

Other foreign sex tourists come from Japan, France, Germany, England, China and the United States. The study, however, showed that there were also Filipino sex clients and even foreign gay tourists who seek young boys as sexual partners.

The “lady boys” was coined here to refer to prostituted males and boys dressing and acting like girls. The study showed they were more prone to violence and discrimination.

The CSEC victims interviewed claimed that payment for their sexual services vary depending on the time the client wants to spend with them.

On the average, they get P1,500 to as much as P5,000 from 30 minutes to a whole night of service. These alleged child prostitutes identified in the study claimed they have at least one to two customers per night. Peak season in Boracay also spells more customers for the minors.

RESPONSES

The ECPAT report prompted government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), DSWD, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to put a rescue mechanism in place in the Island resort.

DOLE 6 Regional Director Aida M. Estabillo directed their provincial office in Aklan to monitor and conduct inspection of establishments that are allegedly tolerating child prostitution.

Estabillo said she directed the Provincial Sagip Batang-Manggagawa Quick Action Team to joint efforts with law enforcement agencies and other entities to rescue child prostitutes in the island.

“This situation needs to be addressed immediately before it balloons and gets out of hand,” she added.

DOLE 6 said it regularly inspects establishments in Boracay but found no information on the existence of child labor. Night operating establishments are yet to be inspected, the agency said.

The PNP also asked help from other stakeholders to help in the campaign against child prostitution.

C/Insp Eugene Rebadomia, Boracay police chief, said they have no facility where children rescued from the sex trade can temporarily stay.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE former village chief accused of being part of the Bukas Kotse gang posted bail for his temporary liberty.

Sergio Dava, former punong barangay of Zaragoza, Bugasong, Antique, posted bail after he was charged with robbery in IS Number VI-10-INV-095-606 dated October 24, 2009.

Dava was arrested October 22 for allegedly robbing the car of Ava Delgado inside the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Dava quit his post as barangay captain for alleged malversation of public funds.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, warned the public to be wary of Dava now that he is out of detention.

“The public, particularly car owners, are advised not to leave valuables inside their parked vehicles such as laptops, cellphones, big amounts of cash and the like as these attract robbers,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said leaflets with tips on “How not to fall victims to Basag Kotse” were distributed to the media and to the public.  

The Bukas Kotse gang has victimized 28 cars since February 2009.

Meanwhile, the LaPaz police headed by S/Insp. Alexander Rosales nabbed one of the most wanted persons in the district.

A team of LaPaz police led by SPO2 Reynaldo Tanchinco arrested the person of Anthony Porto, 34, of Brgy Aguinaldo Monday morning.

Porto has a pending arrest warrant for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

Judge Victor Gelvezon of the Regional Trial Court Branch 36 issued the warrant on Porto.

According to Rosales, Porto is the 5th most wanted person in LaPaz district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MEMBERS of the 6thRegional Mobile Group (RMG) who were dispatched to Jolo, Sulu are heroes, not bad eggs.

This was the reaction of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) to a report in a tabloid (not The Daily Guardian) that the RMG contingent sent to Sulu was composed of cops with “various infractions.”

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, denied the report in a statement Tuesday.

“Most of our contingents were neophyte police. They have just finished their course on Special Counter-Insurgency Operations Unit Training (SCOUT) when the national headquarters directed us to send one company to augment the forces in Mindanao,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said the RMG personnel were sent to Jolo on April 10, 2009 when the Abu Sayyaff Group (ASG) kidnapped three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“They are heroes, not bad eggs,” Cuevas said.

The RMG contingent also formed part of Task Force Bandit in Jolo from April 10 to October 22.

The 75 cops arrived in Iloilo Sunday evening with tears welling in their eyes after their “tough” 6-month assignment in Mindanao.

Police Director Ray Roderos, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas, and Cuevas led the welcome party for the cops.

On Monday, Roderos and Cuevas awarded medals to the RMG contingent for their achievements in Mindanao.

S/Insp. Jerry H. Abrogina, the contingent’s team leader, and four other officers received the Mindanao Campaign Medal and Medalya ng Kasanayan.

The 70 Police Non-Commissioned Officers (PNCOs) got Medalya ng Papuri (PNP Commendation Medal) “for their participation in weakening the Abu Sayyaff Group (ASG) forces which eventually led to the release of the kidnapped ICRC volunteers, destruction of ASG camps in the area, recovery of various firearms  and ammunitions, and confiscation of several motorboats and vehicles used in kidnapping activities.”

Roderos considered the contingents as heroes for their showing of dedication and bravery in risking their lives in the service of the people of Mindanao and of the country.

POSTHUMOUS AWARD

PRO-6 also recognized the late PO1 Jonel C. Aficionado who died last June 14 while in Sulu.

Aficionado’s wife Lenne Beth received the Medalya ng Papuri.

After Mindanao, the PRO6 contingents will continue its anti-insurgency campaign with the 6RMG in Negros Occidental.

“Most of the contingents have yet to finish the two-year minimum service in the mobile group,” Cuevas explained.

Neophyte police officers, including graduates of Philippine National Police Academy, are required to render duty for at least two years in mobile groups.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Guimaras issued a preliminary injunction against an order of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) banning passenger pumpboats from plying their route when Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 is hoisted.

In a writ of preliminary injunction issued October 21, 2009, Judge Merlyn Deloria of Guimaras RTC Branch 65 ordered the PCG to stop the implementation of Paragraph 6(a) of Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 01-09.

Issued in February 5, 2009, the PCG circular prohibited vessels of 1,000 gross tons or below, such as passenger pumpboats, from sailing when Storm Signal No. 1 is hoisted “within the point of origin or route or point of destination.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Guimaras headed by Atty. John Edward Gando filed a petition for declaratory relief against the PCG policy.

The petitioners claimed that the circular stranded more than 1,000 passengers and affected the economy of the island province when a typhoon struck last June 24-25.

IBP-Guimaras said MC 01-09 also “brazenly violated the due process requirement, right to property, the liberty to travel and equal protection of the law under the Constitution.”

The writ of preliminary injunction also ordered the commander of PCG-Iloilo City station to exercise “sound discretion” if pumpboats can travel despite the storm signal No.1 raised in the departure and destination points.

The RTC also ordered the PCG-Iloilo City station to coordinate with weather bureau PAGASA as regards the forecast position, radius of wind and route of the storm subject of PSWS No. 1.

The PCG must also coordinate with the motor banca association on the responsibility of the crew when sailing during typhoons.

The court, however, required the petitioners to post a P100,000 bond before the writ is enforced.

“The order means that the PCG can allow passenger pumpboats can sail despite a storm signal No. 1 if the sea is clear and the wind is calm. If the weather is very rough despite the absence of a storm signal, the PCG can prohibit boats with 1,000 gross tons or below from plying their route. The PCG is trained on sea navigation thus they are experts in determining the situation,” Gando said in a telephone interview.

Gando said the preliminary injunction will take effect while the court discusses the constitutionality of the PCG memorandum circular which is the main issue raised by IBP-Guimaras in its petition.

“If the court sees that the circular violates our constitutional rights, it can issue an injunction against the MC No. 01-09,” he added.

As regards the P100,000 bond, Gando said he will meet with Guimaras Gov. Felipe Hilan Nava on how to raise cash for the said bond.

Gando said Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, had promised Guimaras Rep. JC Rahman Nava to issue a new memorandum circular that will address the case of the island-resort “but it has yet to be realized.”

“If that circular is issued, we will withdraw the petition as the case will be considered moot and academic,” Gando said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE feud between the mayor and a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Banate, Iloilo, who happen to be first cousins, continue to heat up.

This developed as SB Member Noel Bagsit accused Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his son Peter Paul of threatening the former with pistols Saturday evening.

Bagsit said he and his two companions on board his pick up truck were about to leave the Banate Ecopark behind the municipal hall when Cabangal’s vehicle blocked their path.

Bagsit said Cabangal went out of his car and confronted the former about the cases he filed against the mayor.

Bagsit filed grave threats and grave coercion against the mayor when the latter allegedly smashed the right tail light of the town councilor’s pickup truck.

The councilor said he then heard Cabangal say “Tapuson ta ini (Let’s finish this),” while brandishing a caliber .45 pistol.

Bagsit said he also saw Peter Paul Cabangal holding a pistol during the confrontation.

The argument ended when Cabangal’s family intervened.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Cabangal denied Bagsit’s allegations saying it was the latter who instigated the quarrel.

Cabangal said Bagsit was drunk when he tried to talk with the councilor regarding their conflict. He said he tried to express his feelings to Bagsit about their quarrel since they are cousins.

The mayor said Bagsit moved towards his pickup and retrieved his gun.

Both town officials reported their own versions of the incident to the Banate police.

The falling out between Bagsit and Cabangal started when the former exposed the P11-million unliquidated cash advances of the mayor.

The cash advances were the subject of the annual audit report of the Commission of Audit on Banate’s financial standing.

Bagsit said the rift worsened when he voted against the approval of the P600,000 supplemental budget Cabangal requested from the municipal board.

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