December 15, 2023
MANILA — The Philippines deported 180 Chinese nationals on Thursday after they were detained in a raid on a suspected sex-trafficking and online scam operation in the capital Manila, officials said.
Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino nationals were among the nearly 600 people found inside a compound during the operation in October.
Sex toys, a massage parlor, karaoke rooms, and a restaurant were found in the building operated by a business that authorities said was licensed as an internet gaming company.
Several women were “rescued” during the raid, police said.
The Chinese nationals deported did not have work permits and had been “engaging in online scams,” Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Undersecretary Gilberto Cruz told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Cruz said more foreigners detained in the raid would be deported in the coming weeks.
International concern has been growing over internet scams in the Asia-Pacific region, often staffed by trafficking victims tricked or coerced into promoting bogus crypto investments.
Philippine Sen. Risa Hontiveros previously warned that “scam call centers” were operating in the Philippines and employing foreigners trafficked into the country.
In its 2023 human trafficking report, the US Department of State said the Philippines “did not vigorously investigate or prosecute labor trafficking crimes that occurred within” the country.
“Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns,” it said. —AFP