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Thursday, 7 February 2008

Filipinas lured to Singapore with fake round-trip tickets - where's the outrage?

From Asian News Gazette, "Fake roundtrip tickets used to lure Filipinas to Singapore" (Nov 14, 2007) by Veronica Uy:

Trafficking syndicates use fake roundtrip tickets and offer them as "free" to lure Filipinas they deploy for sex jobs in Singapore, the Philippine embassy in Singapore said last week.

In a recent statement, Consul General Maria Lumen Isleta said: "Most of the human trafficking victims who run to the embassy for help hold dummy return tickets and ask for our assistance to be repatriated back to the Philippines."
This is old news, but it's the first time I've come across it. It's also been picked up by Bangkok's The Nation, "Trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore at all-time high: report":
Human trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore has increased alarmingly to an all-time high to 212 cases in 2007, an annual report from the Philippine Embassy in Singapore said on Monday.

The report, submitted to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G Romulo, cited a 70 per cent surge in cases from 125 in 2006.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule-Anoto noted there were 59 recorded cases in 2005.

Last year's figure "is only a small fraction of all the Filipino human trafficking victims in Singapore," the report said.
(I think The Nation article was just published, because Singabloodypore posted it verbatim today.)

There was talk about making Singapore's prostitution laws stricter, especially with the rise in child sex tourism. But I don't remember this issue being raised at any time then or after. And it's bloody disturbing in terms of international relations.

Singapore is supposed to be The Philippines closest friend in Southeast Asia. If that's the case, I wonder how important it is to the Singapore Government. I wouldn't want my friend to allow me to be abused. No one would (right?).

Unfortunately, this illicit practice has also prompted the U.S. State Department to downgrade Singapore. This reminds me of a story, which I cannot verify if it's true or not. It was told by someone who apparently had connections within the local Foreign Affairs Ministry. Back when some State Department officials came to visit Singapore, they were told point-blank that there is no underage sex nor sex trade in Singapore.

"Oh, and don't forget, Singapore is your strongest and most trusted ally in Southeast Asia (so don't mess with us!)."

If the above anecdote is true, then that means the issue has been brushed under the carpet, perhaps to maintain Singapore's squeaky clean image. But now that the Philippines government has brought it out to light, we can't afford to hide our heads in the sand anymore.

It's time for Singapore to help and support its friend and win back its confidence.

Aside: incidentally, I didn't know that Filipinos are required to have round-trip tickets before being allowed to leave the country. Do domestic workers get an exemption?


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