Sunday, July 12, 2009


Former Senator Nikki Coseteng, during a visit to Paris a few years ago, was accosted at the Charles De Gaulle airport by a Filipina, who asked whether she was a singer or a dancer, obviously not recognizing who she was. After replying that she did not sing or dance for a living, Ms. Coseteng asked the Filipina Pasayena-turned-Parisienne longtimer in Paris the reason for her question. Coseteng was jolted by her reply that, in Paris, Pinays are classified only into two categories. If she were pretty, she would either be an entertainer or a prostitute, and if she were plain-looking, she would be a domestic helper. This certainly is an indictment of the Filipina as a human being and the Filipino as a race. In most airports around the world, there are separate lines for Filipinos who are subjected to various forms of humiliation by immigration officers. Filipinas in particular are asked insulting questions, such as if they were prostitutes and how much were their hourly rates. It's high time the national government takes swift and effective remedial measures aimed at erasing the reputation of the Philippines as the "whorehouse of the world."

A few years ago, women activist groups like the GABRIELA and STOP were quite quiet when a high-powered parliamentary delegation from Belgium visited the Philippines. The women activists failed to talk with the Belgian legislators about the horrors of Filipinas brought to Belgium and forced into prostitution. The ongoing hell of Pinays in Belgium was exposed in a book by Belgian journalist Chris De Stoop, entitled "They Are So Sweet, Sir," which shocked Belgium and most parts of Europe. Even the Belgian King Baudouin so pitied the Pinays that he ordered a serious investigation, however, the monarch's death soon brought many to forget about the scandal. How come Philippine authorities (unsurprisingly) failed to discuss such shocking trafficking of Pinays in Belgium when the Belgian legislators were in town? Both Philippine authorities and women's activist groups were caught sleeping on the job. There was a rare opportunity to do something about our tortured women in Belgium and we simply threw it away.

In his book, De Stoop quoted a Belgian pensioner who sympathized with the Pinays as saying, "They are so sweet, sir, as sweet as children!" But they are treated as animals. They sleep four in a room, never allowed to leave their quarters, while two big dogs guard them. They have to striptease six times a night and they earn almost nothing. De Stoop named the prostitution rings in Belgium and in the other European countries. Why has our government not followed this up? Is it because, as De Stoop claims, the Belgian vice lords are paying Philippine officials in the national and local levels, and also the police and the military? De Stoop should be asked to come to Manila and help in running after these Belgian vice lords who prey on young and poor Pinays mostly from the provinces. De Stoop even mentioned certain names in the Philippine judiciary and not even a squeak has been heard from Philippine authorities to go after these crooked judges and fiscals.

Time Magazine said, "De Stoop's bestseller shook up governments in Europe." Unless our government, together with women activist groups goes into action, thousands of Filipinas will continue to be fooled into going to Europe as decent workers and mail-order brides, and then cruelly forced into prostitution. Another distressing aspect of De Stoop's report is that some Philippine embassy people in Belgium and other European countries are "friendly" to the sex merchants. It is clearly high time for a full-scale government probe of the "cruel world of Filipina traffickers."

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