3 foreigners’ arrested, 42 sex workers rescued in raid

AUTHORITIES raided a nightclub in Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga Thursday night, leading to the arrest of three foreigners and two Filipinos and the rescue of 42 sex workers, including a 17-year-old girl from Capas, Tarlac.

Around 9 p.m. of Thursday, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Women and Children Protection Division (CIDG-WCPD) elements led by Police Superintendent Emma Libunao raided around the Sweet Girl Honey Pot night club situated at Fields Avenue, Baligabo, Angeles City and began rescue efforts for the women.

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Among those arrested include Barry Burston, 69, Raymond Anderson, 57, both Australian nationals, and Michael Watt, 59, from New Zealand.

Also arrested were Judith G. Pajaron, 38, of Bonifacio St., Gasdan, Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga; and Rossana P. Almeira, 22, also from Mabalacat. Both are floor managers at the said night club.

Marites B. Relos, the club’s registered owner, was not present during the raid.

Thursday night’s raid stemmed from a complaint lobbed by Ledillia Cortez of Camp O’ Donnel, Capas, Tarlac at the CIDG last Monday that her 17-year-old niece who had been missing for a week after she left to look for a job was being held in night club in Angeles City.

Cortez told CIDG that she received a text message from her niece last May 14 that the latter wants to be rescued because the floor manager of the said club was forcibly arranging her to a bar-fine, a deal that allows male customers to take out female club workers for sexual services elsewhere in exchange for a P1,500 fee.

The 17-year-old victim later told CIDG investigators that she was forcibly being held by the floor manager because of the debt she has incurred from availing the club’s uniform for its women workers.

In her report to CIDG Director, Police Chief Superintendent Samuel D. Pagdilao Jr., Libunao described the situation a clear manifestation of debt bondage, which she said was one of the elements of human trafficking.

She said some of the rescued sex workers were recruited as far as Biliran, Leyte and Catarman, Samar.

Charges of violation of Republic Act 9208, or the Trafficking in Person Act are being prepared against the arrested suspects and the owner of the club, said Libunao.

The raid in Angeles City is part of the continuing aggressive drive against human trafficking by CIDG, Pagdilao said.

The CIDG is the lead agency mandated by PNP Chief, Director General Raul M. Bacalzo in the fight against the said crime, Pagdilao said.

These operations against human trafficking, including those undertaken with the CIDG-WCPD, are aimed at lifting the status of the country from the Tiered-Two watch list of the United States on human trafficking. The rating means that human trafficking is rampant.


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