Oct 042014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2660 2005-06-08 08:06 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


¶B. MANILA 971
¶C. MANILA 702
¶D. MANILA 607

¶1. (U) This cable is Sensitive but Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) Summary: The Philippine government is slowly
beginning to react to reports that cybersex is an increasing
contributor to the trafficking in persons (TIP) problem in
the Philippines. Most cybersex dens operate clandestinely
and appear to have foreign connections. Cybersex operators
victimize young people for easy profits paid by viewers, the
vast majority of whom are overseas. The Philippines does not
have a specific law dealing with TIP-related cybersex, but a
range of laws can be deployed to deal with aspects of the
problem. Some lawmakers are moving forward with possible
legislation against cybersex in the wider context of child
pornography. Mission will continue to monitor this growing
phenomenon and will work with NGOs to develop targeted
proposals focused on fighting TIP-related cybersex. End

A Spike in Growth

¶3. (SBU) The phenomenon of cybersex, wherein paying
“customers” order “performers” to engage in sexual acts in
real time over secure Internet connections, is a growing
sector of the TIP problem in the Philippines. Filipinos are
particularly vulnerable due to readily available technology
and local computer expertise, pervasive poverty, and the
difficulty of detection due to lax law enforcement. Given
that cybersex dens are mainly clandestine, there are no
reliable estimates of the exact nature of the problem, but
our contacts assert unanimously that the numbers of dens and
victims are increasing. All estimates are informal, with
police giving the lowest at 50 to 75 dens nationwide.
Sources assert that the industry is earning millions of
dollars annually. According to resident Amcit and longtime
anti-TIP activist Father James Reuter, Jr., cybersex is
“growing like weeds in all parts of the Philippines.” At the
GRP’s Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, Chief
Inspector Ercy Nanette M. Tomas echoed the comments of NGO
leaders, informing poloff that dens are “mushrooming”
throughout the archipelago. According to Senator Maria Ana
Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, the Philippines is “ripe” for the
advent of the cybersex industry because the country is
already one of the world’s largest producers of pornography.

¶4. (SBU) According to Foroogh Foyouzat, Chief of Child
Protection at UNICEF (Philippines), Australians, Europeans
and Americans operate most of the cybersex dens, usually in
partnership with Filipinos. Many of the dens operate under
cover of legitimate Internet cafes, but others are in red
light districts, and some are even in private homes and
offices. Cybersex operators, like other traffickers, often
recruit “performers” from poverty-stricken rural areas. Many
of the those recruited are under 20 and some are minors.
Operators also troll Internet chat rooms frequented by young
people and students from schools located in Manila and other
metropolitan areas. The large number of
unemployed/underemployed English-speaking youths that make
the Philippines a prime locale for the successful call center
industry (Ref C) is also an attraction to cybersex den
operators who are looking for a place to locate their

¶5. (U) In this new form of on-line commercial sex, the
customer, nearly always a male living outside the
Philippines, typically charges at least USD 2 per minute to
his credit card to watch one or more victims act on his
orders. Operators pressure and reward performers to sustain
viewers’ interest for as long as possible. Performers rarely
make more than USD 4 per day and work conditions are poor.
Many observers and some victims consider cybersex a
relatively anodyne source of income, however. Prostitutes
often prefer cybersex to their traditional trade due to its
higher pay, convenience and relative safety. Prositutes, for
example, have noted to NGO workers the impossibility of
contracting sexually transmitted diseases in cybersex
“encounters” and, due to time zone differences, the daytime
work schedules are attractive. Nonetheless, there is
evidence that performers who are above the age of consent are
lured into the trade and then coerced to stay in the dens.
¶6. (U) Some customers often prefer to exploit minors. Many
parents have little understanding of the technology and are
therefore less able to detect the abuse. Other parents are
complicit with operators and maintain that the absence of
physical contact belies any purported harm to the child.
There are no estimates of hte numbers of child victims.

Current State of GRP Law

¶7. (U) Philippine law does not yet specifically address
TIP-related cybersex and we are not aware of any convictions
of den operators. Contacts have told us that prosecutors can
use the following existing statutes against alleged operators
of cybersex dens if certain circumstances are met:

— Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code prescribes fines of
up to 12,000 pesos (USD 223) and six to 12 years imprisonment
for “exhibition of indecent shows.” This law penalizes
victims and pornographers, but has no provision for customers.

— Republic Act (R.A.) 7610, the Child Abuse law, provides up
to 12 years imprisonment for those who “hire, employ, use,
persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene
exhibitions and indecent shows, whether they are live or on

— R.A. 8042, the Anti-Illegal Recruitment law, provides
fines of 1 million pesos (USD 18,519) and life imprisonment
for the illegal recruitment of minors.

— R.A. 8792, the Electronic Commerce law of 2000, covers 10
types of computer crimes, although it is silent on cybersex.

— R.A. 9208, the Anti-Trafficking law, provides punishment
of up to 20 years imprisonment for those who promote
“indecent shows, information technology, or by whatever
means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit
sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts
of a person primarily for sexual purposes.” This is the most
comprehensive and relevant law enacted since the advent of
the Internet, but most prosecutors are still unfamiliar with

— R.A. 9321, the Anti-Child Labor law, prohibits most
employment of children below 15 and guarantees the
protection, health and safety of child workers (Ref B, para

¶8. (U) Legislators are beginning to speak out about the
problem. Senators Madrigal and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. are
sponsoring hearings on child pornography, for example.
Madrigal confirmed to poloff June 6 that she plans to sponsor
new legislation that would deal specifically with TIP-related
cybersex in the context of forbidding the possession of any
form of child pornography. Madrigal was not optimistic,
however, about the GRP’s capacity to implement even existing
laws, commenting that: “No matter how well the police do
their jobs, nothing happens due to lack of law enforcement
capabilities and the slowness of the judiciary.” On the
House side, Representative Joseph Santiago has drafted a bill
imposing up to 15 years of imprisonment for cybersex den

The GRP’s Nascent Efforts

¶9. (SBU) As flagged above, the GRP is having difficulty
grappling with cybersex and its TIP-related aspects, though
it is aware of the growing problem and has pledged to take
action. The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking — the
highest GRP body dealing with trafficking — has not yet
taken any specific moves to deal with cybersex. The
Interagency Council for the Welfare of Children is aware of
the problem, but also has not yet taken any concrete actions.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has
integrated anti-pornography education into its child
protection strategy, however.

¶10. (SBU) The Presidential Anti-Illegal Recruitment Task
Force (PAIRTF) has pursued cybersex operators more vigorously
than any other GRP agency. On May 25, PAIRTF agents, acting
on a warrant, raided two cybersex dens in Quezon City, in
Metro Manila. The PAIRTF team rescued seven women, arrested
two Filipinos, and killed the two Dutch proprietors, who
allegedly drew guns on the PAIRTF team. Despite these
actions, law enforcement has generally not been able to keep
pace with the problem. Operators can readily adopt the
latest hardware and now even use encryption. At the same
time, austere budgets, lack of training, and corruption
constrain the police. There are indications, for example,
but no hard evidence, that local government officials in some
regions may be protecting dens and profiting from them.
Efren Meneses, Head of the Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes
Division of the National Bureau of Investigation, laments his
office’s lack of both computers and cooperation from Internet
service providers. Few lawyers and police officers are
familiar with procedures for electronic evidence. Some local
governments have taken the initiative to fight the problem.
For example, the government in Isabela Province located
northeast of Manila has formed an interagency group to
address cybersex issues.


¶11. (SBU) All of our contacts agree that cybersex is
widespread and growing. Officials realize that cybersex den
operators currently have the upper hand and that cybersex is
a contributing factor in TIP. As the GRP tries to deal with
the problem, the most critical areas where improvement is
needed include: enhanced training for police, prosecutors
and judges; a specific law that prosecutors can apply to
TIP-related scenarios; collection of statistics so the scope
of the problem can be assessed and progress against it
examined via metrics; and increased assistance to victims.
The GRP and NGOs already operate anti-TIP programs and would
welcome assistance to fight cybersex. Philippine NGOs are
willing and, given the necessary funding, would be able to
assist the GRP in this area (Ref A). Mission will continue
to monitor this growing phenomenon and will work with NGOs to
develop targeted proposals focused on fighting TIP-related
cybersex. Mission is also providing Filipinos information on
the U.S. PROTECT Act of 2003, which strengthens U.S. law
enforcement’s ability to prevent, investigate, prosecute and
punish violent crimes committed against children, including
those that involve U.S. citizens and have an international



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