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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025              

Republic of the Philippines

Although the general macroeconomic outlook improved significantly in recent years, the economy still faces several long term challenges. The Philippines must maintain the reform momentum in order to catch up with regional competitors, improve employment opportunities, and alleviate poverty. The Philippines will need still higher, sustained growth to make progress in alleviating poverty, given its high population growth and unequal distribution of income.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Philippines

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Philippines.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Helping girls flee brothels

Craig and Marc Kielburger, Toronto Star, Jun 04 2007

[accessed 6 July 2011]

The tape showed hundreds of children as young as 5 locked in cages stacked a half-dozen high. Most were child prostitutes, caught in that country's rampant sex tourism trade.  Broadcast on CNN, it highlighted an issue the world couldn't ignore, and hit hardest in North America, where many of the children's regular customers live.

More than 60,000 Filipino girls work as child prostitutes. They are recruited by pimps in rural areas of the country from unsuspecting, desperately poor families who send their daughters to the city to earn extra money.  "It's everyone from the sleazy to the elite," Father Shay says of the tourists who frequent child brothels. "All levels of society and every nationality."  Girls are sold in the brothels and on the streets for as little as $25 and can see as many as 10 customers a day. If they don't make enough money, they are beaten.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Veyoma Hevamange, ECPAT International, 2011

[accessed 6 September 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in the Philippines. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 6 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits the commercial exploitation of children and child pornography and defines purchasing commercial sex acts from a child as a trafficking offense. The statutory rape law criminalizes sex with minors under 12 and sex with a child under 18 involving force, threat, or intimidation. The maximum penalty for child rape is 40 years in prison plus a lifetime ban from political office. The production, possession, and distribution of child pornography are illegal, and penalties range from one month to life in prison, plus fines of from 50,000 to five million pesos ($935 to $93,500), depending on the gravity of the offense.

While authorities endeavored to enforce the law, inadequate prosecutorial resources and capacity to analyze computer evidence were challenges to effective enforcement. The government made serious efforts to address these crimes and collaborated with foreign law enforcement, NGOs, and international organizations. In October the Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking partnered with the International Justice Mission, the Digital Freedom Network, and others to conduct several Prosecuting Online Sexual Exploitation training seminars for prosecutors and law enforcement officers on both prosecuting cases and obtaining and presenting digital evidence. Alumni of this program successfully convicted 33 online sexual exploitation of children cases in the year to October.

Despite the penalties, law enforcement agencies and NGOs reported that criminals and family members continued to use minors in the production of pornography and in cybersex activities. The country remained the top global internet source of online child pornography.

Children continued to be victims of sex trafficking and the country remained a destination for foreign and domestic child sex tourists. Additionally, the live internet broadcast of young Filipino girls, boys, and sibling groups performing sex acts for paying foreigners continued. The government continued to prosecute accused pedophiles and deport those who were foreigners and to stop the entry of identified convicted sex offenders. To reduce retraumatization of child victims and spare children from having to testify, the government increased its use of plea agreements in online child sexual exploitation cases, which significantly reduced the case disposition time. In February, for example, a woman pled guilty to attempted trafficking in persons, child abuse, and possession of child pornography. Acting on a tip, police caught the woman offering to sell streaming video of her nine-year-old daughter performing sexual acts. The daughter and four other children were removed from the home. Using the aforementioned tools, police closed the case in three months without retraumatizing the children.

The NBI and the PNP worked closely with the labor department to target and close facilities suspected of sex trafficking of minors. From January to June, DSWD data reported 29 cases in which children were victims of sex trafficking and 13 cases of child pornography.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 6 September 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 971]

Children, primarily girls, are trafficked domestically from rural communities to urban centers and tourist destinations for the purpose of domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation. (31,33,48) Research indicates that the Philippines is the top global Internet source of online commercial sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).

Children are induced to perform sex acts at the direction of paying foreigners and local Filipinos for live Internet broadcasts which usually take place in small Internet cafes, private homes, or windowless dungeon-like buildings commonly known as “cybersex dens.” (8,32,33,49-54) According to data on OSEC victims collected by the International Justice Mission Philippines, the average age of victims was 16 to 18 years, and the median age of the victims at the time of rescue was 12. (8,33,55) Additionally, according to the most recent available data from 2018 the Philippines Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrimes reviewed over 576,000 reports of online child abuse and cybercrimes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (8,54,56)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 3 June 2005

[accessed 16 December 2010]

[84] The Committee expresses its grave concern about the sexual exploitation of children, including growing child prostitution, and the reported cases of child pornography in the State party. The Committee notes with concern that the provisions of the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act No. 7610) are mainly related to child prostitution and do not adequately protect victims of other forms of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, the Committee notes with concern that the minimum age of sexual consent is not clearly enough established in the State party’s domestic legislation and that the Revised Penal Code (Republic Act No. 3815) imposes maximum penalties for sexual offences when the victim is under 12 years of age but imposes lower penalties for sexual offenses against minors over 12 years of age.

[85] The Committee welcomes the adoption of, in 2003, the new Anti-Trafficking Law (Republic Act 9208) and other measures taken by the State party in the areas of prevention of trafficking and protection of victims, such as the establishment of Anti-Illegal Recruitment Coordination Councils, the Trade Union Child Labor Advocate (TUCLAS) initiative and the establishment of an Executive Council to suppress trafficking in person particularly women and children. But the Committee is gravely concerned about trafficked Filipino children both within the country and across borders. The Committee expresses its concern about existing risk factors contributing to trafficking activities, such as persisting poverty, temporary overseas migration, growing sex tourism and weak law enforcement in the State party.

The world of RP’s 4 million child workers

Child Labor in the News, May 3, 2009

[accessed 6 July 2011]

PROSTITUTION” to pay for school fees is just one of the many guises of children in the Philippine flesh trade.   Child prostitution takes many appearances, from stripping and indecent dance; massage; guest relations; mobile sex trade in streets and malls; on board docked ships or boats; and outright sex slavery in sex dens.   Nobody really knows how many Filipino children are in the sex trade, but they could number up to 100,000, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).   Most are girls, but the number of boy prostitutes is increasing.

IACAT and IJM elated over latest conviction of human trafficker

Philippines News Agency PNA, Manila, Nov. 27, 2008

[accessed 17 September 2011]

[scroll down]

The four (4) accused were convicted for victimizing minor girls, with ages ranging from 14-16 years old. The victims had been sexually exploited and were made to work as prostitutes by the accused. One of the four complainants was promised the job of a cashier, while the other three were told they will work as group dancers. Instead, they all ended up as GROs in a videoke club and were forced to engage in acts of prostitution. They also were not brought to Laguna as agreed, but instead to Daraga, Albay. The victims were never allowed to leave the videoke club, until they were rescued by the NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division. htcp

A Brave and Loving Woman

Fr. Shay Cullen, 13 March 2008

[accessed 6 July 2011]

[accessed 13 November 2016]

Josie Magano is one of the bravest Filipino women I ever met. One day she came asking help to rescue her teenage daughter from the clutches of a Danish sex tour operator who owned a hotel in Baloy Beach in Olongapo City.

Halfway houses at ports protect sex trade victims

Gerald Gene R. Querubin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Batangas City, 11/22/2007

[accessed 6 February 2016]

A female recruiter, who promised Ana a job as a storekeeper in Cavite, flew her from her home province of Bukidnon to Manila in January 2006. From there, she was brought to Cavite and forced to work as a guest relations officer (GRO) in a bar and, eventually, as a prostitute.  With three other girls—all minors—Ana was made to work from 4 p.m. till past midnight. If the girls refused to cooperate, “Steve,” a nephew of the bar owner, would beat them or douse them with water. htcp

Ghana: Rescuing the Child Prostitute, Whose Responsibility?

Wisdom Dzidedi Donkor, Public Agenda, Accra, 5 November 2007

[partially accessed 6 July 2011 - access restricted]

RESEARCH FINDINGS - In the Philippines, UNICEF estimated that there are 60,000 child prostitutes and many of the 200 brothels in the notorious Angeles City offer children for sex.

Cops told to probe alleged child prostitution in Digos city

Orlando Dinoy, Mindanao Bureau, Inquirer, DIGOS CITY Philippines, October 10, 2007

[accessed 6 July 2011]

Last week, a nine-year old student at a public school here went missing for three days.  When the girl resurfaced, she said she was recruited into prostitution by a gang operating at the Rizal Park, a stone's throw from the city hall and the police station.

Fighting The Child Sex Trade - One priest's battle to protect exploited kids

Michael Satchell, USNEWS, Olongapo Philippines, May 04, 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

Pia Agustin Corvera became a prostitute at the age of 9. An aunt who raised her in a Manila slum rented her to foreign men with Pia receiving 120 pesos–$3–for each encounter. After three years, according to a social worker's report, she was sold to a visiting German pedophile. Today, the morose 16-year-old with a ravaged psyche and an uneasy smile has found refuge here in a therapeutic community for child victims of sexual abuse run by a 57-year-old Irish priest, the Rev. Shay Cullen. The tiny Filipino girl is slowly learning to trust again, and while understandably shy, she describes with brutal simplicity the sum of her experiences. Says Pia: "I felt like garbage."

Filipino girl

Child Exploitation

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

A Filipino girl, at the tender age of three, was forced to perform oral sex on strangers. What's worse is that her pimp is her own mother, a drug addict.  The girl's plight is shocking but not unique, said Dr Jean D'Cunha from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem).  Children of increasingly young ages are being forced into prostitution to fuel the billion-dollar tourism trade in child sex, said international experts on prostitution and human trafficking at a conference here.  Add the growing number of similarly victimised young women, and the experts believe that 'millions are being trafficked worldwide for the sex trade.

The path to recovery of Isabel and Irene


[accessed 24 April 2012]

The flight schedule was pinned up on the wall. The pimps arrived and began to argue with the police claiming that they had an understanding with the police chief. But the police we had with us were from a different station. While they were busy discussing the payoff, the Preda team went into the house with the mother and found Isabel. They got her out into the van and sped away before anyone could stop them. It was clear that there would be no investigation and no arrests. If only we could have rescued all the girls it would have been a great day’s work but unfortunately it was impossible. The girls were teenagers and one of then had a baby.

Two men convicted of sex tourism ordered to pay victims in RP

[Last access date unavailable]

A man convicted of traveling to the Philippines to have sex with boys was ordered to pay $16,475 (PHP922,600) in restitution to his victims, officials said.  Under an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office and ICE, the international aid group World Vision will use the money to provide two years of medical, psychological, and occupational therapy for the teens, who were 14 and 15 when the crimes occurred.

Sex tourism is big money for pimps and politicians

Father Shay Cullen, Preda Foundation

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

To be left homeless and abandoned at 13 years old with a younger brother to provide for was too much for Angelina. Hungry and hopeless, begging food in a public park and nowhere to go, she found hope and happiness in the offer of two women job recruiters.

Angeles City, two hours north of Metro Manila, is the home of the most organized sex industry in the Philippines. Thousands of sex tourists from all over the world go there to look for cheap sex, much of it with under age minors. Some go looking for children younger than 12. It is estimated that 60,000 children are exploited annually in this business in the Philippines.

Wising Up On Sexual Trafficking Of Women And Children [DOC]

Delia Jurado, The Freeman, February 16, 2005

[accessed 18 December 2010]

[scroll down]

Cebu is considered as one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism. Cebu City has become the destination point of internal and domestic trafficking of children as young as 11 to 17 years old coming from Samar, Bohol, Leyte, Negros and Bacolod.

The prevalence of human trafficking

Wenna A. Berondo, The Freeman, Jul 03, 2005

[accessed 28 June 2013]

According to him, Cebu is among the top five areas in the country where child prostitution and sex tourism are prevalent because it is the destination of international and domestic trafficking of kids ages 11 to 17 from nearby provinces of Samar, Leyte, Bohol, and Negros.

The End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes said that the number of commercially and sexually exploited children in the country is increasing. The Philippine Plan of Action estimated that there are between 60,000 to 75,000 children in the Philippines who are involved in the sex trade. Non-government organizations, however, have estimated that the number could reach up to 100,000 with both locals and foreigners believed to be perpetrators.

Child prostitution in Cebu alarming – ILO

The Philippine Star, Cebu, 2005-06-13

[accessed 7 July 2011]

Most of these children aged 11 to 17 are classified as “freelancers,” or doing their trade while they roam the city streets. The study may not be extensive as it should have been, but the ILO-IPECL said this should be enough to be alarmed and to do something about child prostitution.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – PHILIPPINES– The Philippines officially adopted its National Plan of Action titled the Framework for Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children 2000-2005 in November 2000. The Philippine Government also produced a long-term “Philippine Plan of Action for Children (PPAC): the Filipino Children 2000 and Beyond” where commercial sexual exploitation is recognized as an area where priority attention and action are required.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 7 July 2011]

[61] Awareness about sexual exploitation of children is high and the Government has introduced a series of policy and legislative measures since the early 1990s to address the issues.  The legislative framework to protect children is comprehensive and certain acts have been revised with the protection of children in mind.  In particular, the Anti-Trafficking in Children Act is currently in its fifth draft and includes provisions such as the protection of the trafficked child from criminal liability, appropriate training for persons who work with child victims/survivors and the penalization of those facilitating the trafficking.  However, certain realities remain to be addressed, including that children can still find themselves imprisoned following their “rescue” from brothels and other exploitative environments, and prosecutions against often-wealthy exploiters continue to fail through inadequate legal procedures.

Stop Child Pornography Today!

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

CHILD PROSTITUTION IS A KIN OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY - The Philippines ranks fourth among countries with the most number of prostituted children. A study by the Psychological Trauma Program of the University of the Philippines notes that prostitution may now be the country's fourth largest source of GNP.

A Living Hell - A Cultural Perspective On Child Prostitution In The Far East

Jim Blaylock,, 27 Feb, 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

In the Philippines, the practice of selling children into prostitution is a long and well-established trade. While there are laws forbidding the practice, there are no enforcement measures to prevent the tragedy. Part of this pathology comes from the ideology that children are not people, but property.

Family And Friends Push Children Into Prostitution

AsiaNews/Agencies, Manila, 11/11/2004

[accessed 7 July 2011]

Recruiters often justify getting children into the sex trade by saying that they are “helping” them and their families.  Recruiters can be immediate family members or people known to family and friends.  The fight against child prostitution is hampered by the victims' reluctance to testify and the inexperience of prosecutors.

Philippines-Children: Scourge Of Child Prostitution

Sol F. Juvida, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, MANILA, Oct 12, 1997

[accessed 7 October 2012]

Sharon, a 13 years-old schoolgirl was forever cutting classes at her village school and, fearful of her parents wrath, took a bus from her village and headed for the big city - Manila.  She wound up in Luneta Park, where a kindly stranger befriended her - and then her real troubles began.

Free Trade and Child Prostitution in the Philippines

Father Shay Cullen, Preda Foundation

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

Jemma was only a child. 14 years old . when I first saw her she was dressed in a bikini , had a name tag attached and was gyrating on the stage in a sleazy bar, in Angeles City, a hundred kilometers north of Manila ,Philippines.

The Modern Scourge of Sex Slavery

Dr. Martin Brass, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, Hong Kong, September 2004,13190,SOF_0904_Slavery1,00.html

[accessed 7 July 2011]

[3rd photo caption]  Filipino children, victims of child prostitution, wait to testify before Philippine Congressional committee on child prostitution and human rights, as 200 street children rallied, in a downpour outside, in support.

About Virlanie – History

Virlanie Foundation, Inc.

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

1998 - Establishment of Ma Maison for children aged 14 years and above who have suffered abuse, child prostitutes or victims of physical maltreatment.

Street Children in the Philippines

Tomoko Kojima, 1999-2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 July 2011]

Besides street children, there is child prostitution in Philippines. Thousands of young girls and boys remain trapped in the country's flourishing sex trade. Many child sex workers aged from 11 to 15 years old. Young prostitutes often have problems that they have mental damage. Likewise, the longer a child stays in sex trade, the more difficult it will be for that child the trauma that the sex trade causes.

Child labor rampant in Cebu, DOLE says

Wenna A. Berondo, The fair and fearless freeman, July 15, 2005

[accessed 7 July 2011]

[scroll down]

CHILD LABOR RAMPANT IN CEBU, DOLE SAYS - Although DOLE did not give figures on how many children are working in Cebu, it is considered as among the “hot spots” for child prostitution where a number of kids are found working in pyrotechnics, prostitution, domestic labor, mining and quarrying, deep-sea fishing, and sugar cane plantations.

Violation of Children’s and Women’s Rights: The Case of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation [PDF]

Ms. Mehr Khan, UNICEF Regional Director, East Asia and Pacific Region, 12/6/2003 -- Paper Presentation

[accessed 16 April 2011]

THE SCOPE AND NATURE OF THE PROBLEM IN THE EAP REGION - Most sexual exploitation of children is by local men. In the Philippines, for example, it is thought that nine out of ten customers of child prostitutes are Filipinos.




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - PHILIPPINES [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2006

[accessed 6 July 2011]

The Philippines is highly affected by all forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), which seem to be closely linked and greatly impact on one another.

While tourism has been used to promote economic growth, it has also resulted in child sex tourism in the Philippines. In research conducted in Cebu in 2004, all the taxi drivers surveyed responded that they had had an encounter with a foreign tourist accompanied by a Filipino minor. Interviews conducted in a drop-in centre for victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) showed that 70 per cent of the girls assisted were aged between 11 and 17 years. Cebu is a prime tourist destination in the Philippines, and is advertised on websites providing information on where sex services are available. Two years ago, an American national was arrested as he tried to leave the US for the Philippines for making arrangements to have sex with two Filipino girls aged 9 and 12. There are indications that this kind of pre-arranged child sex tourism takes place in the country, and is highly facilitated by the Internet. Nationals from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States have been arrested in the Philippines for sexual offences against children.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 16 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children living on the streets engage in informal labor activities such as scavenging or begging.  Children are also engaged in domestic service and are involved in the commercial sex industry, including the use of children in the production of pornography and the exploitation of children by sex tourists.  Children are reportedly trafficked internally for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and labor.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The Virlanie Foundation, a local child protection NGO, estimated that there were at least 20 thousand child prostitutes in the country, most in the Metro Manila area. Other NGOs estimated that as many as 100 thousand children were involved in the commercial sex industry. Most of these children were girls, and nearly all had dropped out of school. These children come from very poor families with unemployed or irregularly employed parents.

The Virlanie Foundation offered housing, training, and counseling services to child prostitutes. An ILO program resulted in more than six thousand children being removed or prevented from engaging in the worst forms of child labor, including the commercial sex industry

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