The Philippines is centre of a billion-dollar global sex industry involving children

A foreign journalist working with Philippine police and an American non-government organisation (NGO) has exposed more of the under-reported underworld of the Philippines’ underage sex industry. A Daily Mail UK report detailed the undercover investigative journalism of Peter Bridge (not his real name), a Belgian national.

The investigation focused on illegal brothels and cybersex dens in the northern Mindanao city of Iligan. One particularly chilling photo depicted a “paedophile pageant” in which girls aged from eleven to fifteen years are lined up for clients to choose from. Bridge recounts the experience of entering one of these dens posing as a foreign paedophile…

‘They gave me a selection of girls to choose from, between the ages of 11 and 17.

‘I could choose any girls I wanted. I told them I was interested in having six girls, two every night – 15 and 17, 11, 13 and then younger. They agreed.’

The girls were later delivered to [Bridge’s] hotel room where investigators wired the room with hidden cameras.

Over the next few hours he interviewed them to find out as much as he could about their conditions, families and treatment.


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The Philippines is a top supplier of illicit cybersex content involving minors streamed over the Internet to paedophiles all over the world. It is also a popular destination for child sex tourists who come mainly from Europe, North America, Australia, and Korea. Often it is the victims’ Filipino parents themselves who, driven by poverty, sell them into the trade. Once in, some of the children themselves work with these criminal syndicates to recruit other kids.

The Daily Mail reports further how “[poverty] combined with the rise of cheap, high speed internet access has turned the country into the hub of a billion-dollar cyber sex industry with tens of thousands of girls being exposed to sexual abuse.”

But even in mainstream media, the practice of abusing children has enjoyed a long tradition in the Philippines. Back in 2011, when President BS Aquino had not even spent a year in power, reality TV mega-star Willie Revillame attracted a social media storm after he allegedly abused a six-year-old boy on the popular TV5 game show Willing Willie. Aside from advertisers pulling out of the show en masse, there were no consequences felt by Revillame who went into “semi-retirement” presumably to enjoy the vast fortune he accumulated doing these shows.

Going even further back to 1982 were the reports of how Vicente “Tito” Sotto (now a Philippine senator and, back then, a huge media celebrity) figured in the case of the alleged rape of fifteen-year-old starlet Pepsi Paloma by comedians Joey de Leon, Richie d’Horsey, and the Senator’s brother Vic Sotto. Paloma later committed suicide after Tito Sotto “intervened” in the case and the accused celebrities issued a public apology.

Filipino Netizens reveal their disturbing tastes: 12-year-old Andrea Brillantes tops Philippines' most-searched list

Filipino Netizens reveal their disturbing tastes: 12-year-old Andrea Brillantes tops Philippines’ most-searched list

There was speculation at the time that the fallout from the episode severely impacted Paloma’s career after producers would no longer touch the starlet with a ten-foot pole following the incident. Amazingly, the careers in the entertainment industry of the accused continued to flourish despite the scandal (and, of course, Tito Sotto went on to become a powerful Philippine Senator) — a testament to the deeply ingrained culture of impunity in the Philippines. Paloma reportedly went on to hang herself under circumstances which, like most of her life, were presumably “shrouded in mystery”.

The lack of real consequences felt by rich and well-connected celebrities and politicians is telling of the sort of society the Philippines is. What is more disturbing is that there is likely to be a vast number of cases of abuse, criminal neglect, and exploitation in which children are the primary victims that happen under the media’s radar in the country. Philippine Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda himself conceded that child pornography in the Philippines has long remained “under the radar” and that the government is only now “placing greater emphasis on fighting the crime”.

Indeed, the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the Philippines could trace its roots to the underbelly of Filipino culture itself. In mid-2015, the Philippines’ social media community was on fire over a supposed video sex scandal involving child star Andrea Brillantes who, at the time, was only twelve years old. Such was the obsession of the Filipino public with Brillantes that she emerged as the most Googled person in the Philippines in a report published by TIME Labs at the end of 2015.

It is, of course, a no-brainer to propose that any serious effort to stamp out the global child sex industry is to cut the supply at its source. What is more confronting is facing the cultural reality of Philippine society where much of the supply originates — a society that regards sexualisation of children with disturbing banality.

[Photo courtesy Daily Mail UK.]

17 Replies to “The Philippines is centre of a billion-dollar global sex industry involving children”

  1. Please listen everyone, there is a easy answer to this problem that makes money and stops this act, and keeps the public informed. Make a Filipino version of the TV show “To catch a predator”
    This show will catch the adults and children that engaging in this practice and make money from everyone watching the TV show and be a warning to future people. No foreigner would take a chance of his or her face being shown in a TV show where someone could send the video to their family. Filipinos would not want their face shown on national TV for the country to see. Try to make the show for one year. I promise the Philippines would disappear off the child sex nation list.
    2. The 2 and answer to stop this is to stop legal pedephiles in this country by requiring a 10 year age limit on relationships. Why do you have 50 year old and above people having a relationship or married to a someone between the ages of 17 to 25. There should at least be a lay that if a person is old enough to be your parent the relationship is not allowed.

    1. You don’t need a TV show, people can do it themselves with Facebook and YouTube. In the UK, vigilante groups like ‘Stinson Hunter’ and ‘Letzgo Hunting’ have been doing the same thing in their local communities – posing as kids online and inviting paedos to meet up, then posting their videos and conversations to publicly shame them.

  2. “Driven by poverty” my ass. Most parents would do ANYTHING to protect their children from predators.

    This sort of thing is just a natural outcome of a culture where life is cheap and work is a dirty word.

    1. Says you who lives under a rock.

      Typical Pinoy denial syndrome, instead of acknowledging and attacking the problem head-on decides to shoot the messenger instead.

      I’ve been to a lot of internet cafes where Pinay teenagers chat with multiple foreigners to hook-up with them (i.e. become their boyfriends aka sugar daddies), it came to a point that it has become a cottage industry here in this country.

      1. Apparently the Daily Mail is full of all sorts of Bullshit – it’s the British equivalent of the National Enquirer. But what Ronald says is perfectly true. It’s a bit unlikely those girls wait until they’re 18 to start their scamming trade.

  3. This is another sign of the laziness of filipinos and their tireless pursuit of a quick buck. Sex is a very lucrative industry and does not require anything more than having a body healthy enough to last several rounds per “rampa”. Medical check-ups, “Fit to work certificates” and background checks are not required, and the job is obviously tax-free. The lack of an age filter only opens up options to the more devious of people (worldwide).
    Another thing is the culture. It has been ingrained to the typical fliptard that “younger is better”. It is rare to meet someone who has preferences for older women, let alone MILFs (not the Moros, you moron). Remember the old tanduay commercial/tagline “nakatikim ka na ba ng kinse anyos?”?

  4. I suggest all of you try to find a copy of the Canadian made documentary called “Father Figure” and then watch it. The documentary has nothing to do with pedophilia but its dealing with another sick (from both parties) mentality.

  5. The Philippines is the “Phedophile Capital of the World”. Soto, Revillame, and other child abusers should had been in jail. Thanks to their celebrity status and political power.

    This country is now descending into the “daan matuwid ni Aquino”, directly proceeding to the garbage dumps.

  6. If women really choose prostitution, why is it mostly marginalized and disadvantaged women who do? If we want to discuss the issue of choice, let’s look at who is doing the actual choosing in the context of prostitution. Surely the issue is not why women allegedly choose to be in prostitution, but why men choose to buy the bodies of millions of women and children worldwide and call it sex.

    Philosophically, the response to the choice debate is ‘not’ to deny that women are capable of choosing within contexts of powerlessness, but to question how much real value, worth, and power these so-called choices confer.

    Politically, the question becomes, should the state sanction the sex industry based on the claim that some women choose prostitution when most women’s choice is actually ‘compliance’ to the only options available?

    When governments idealize women’s alleged choice to be in prostitution by legalizing, decriminalizing, or regulating the sex industry, they endorse a new range of ‘conformity’ for women.

    Increasingly, what is defended as a choice is not a triumph over oppression but another name for it.

  7. Sex crimes in the Fail-ippines are commtitted constantly despit the implementation of strict laws about foreigners not being allowed in a room alone with anyone under the age of 15(is it 15?). The only people ever convicted of any crimes are Foreigners. The problem is that there is an industry in the country run by ‘elites’ who never get there hands dirty and have layers of people between them and the victims so they can never be connected to them.
    OF COURSE, the dim-witted Foreigner is duped into being nothing more than a ‘patsy’ and the ‘evil foreigner’ is held up to the ‘massa’ as the problem…and that is the real problem.

  8. the root cause is poverty. it’s always been. then add drugs. we’re done.

    pero pwede ung nakasando na green eh oh. hahaha!
    just kidding folks. pero pwede talaga eh. XD

  9. There’s just no value given to human life. The children’s parents are bankrupt on all levels, societal values are twisted and corrupted, and even those educated and in positions of (governing) authority are twisted, else why would the Philippines take the lead as supplier of underage internet cybersex (of all areas to be the lead).

    The country seems so overwhelming hopeless, especially with clown candidates running for presidency. But every now and then, the little flicker of hope gains a little brightness when I run into farmers who practice and love organic farming or when I know of and have seen virtuoso musicians open their homes to the underprivileged to expose them to live classical concerts or a business professor who reaches out to a resettlement community to teach them to earn livelihood out of crafts — these people may be few but they stand out, and for some reason makes me think that there is still hope for the Philippines. We just need more of them.

  10. Our current govt admin seems aware of this situation at one point, as drugs become the culprit behind sexual abuse and human trafficking but not limited to that. We trust in our nation’s leadership that he will kill this problem.

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