De Lima seeks ‘sex-for-pass’ probe

Published June 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah L. Torregoza

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has sought a Senate inquiry into the reported cases of policemen allegedly involved in sexual extortion activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


In filing Senate Resolution No. 437, De Lima said it is imperative that the Senate, particularly the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, investigates the issue involving some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the “sex-for-pass” scheme and exact accountability from them.

The senator also stressed the need for the Upper Chamber to address the gaps in the formulation and implementation of gender-based policies and programs of the government in the midst of the crisis.

“It was alleged by gender rights advocates that some members of the PNP are involved in a ‘sex-for-pass’ scheme during the period of quarantine, which allegedly involves extorting sexual favors from known sex workers who seek to cross the borders of quarantine zones in order to rendezvous with clients and earn a living,” De Lima said in the explanatory note of the resolution.

She said there were also anonymous testimonies about the social stigma and discrimination these sex workers encountered in receiving government aid.

PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa had earlier urged victims of the alleged “sex-for-pass” scheme in checkpoints to come out in the open and file cases in court so that the perpetrators will be prosecuted.

According to Gamboa, while administrative cases can be filed by the PNP against the perpetrators, the victims have to personally step out in the public in a criminal proceeding.

But De Lima said coming out in the open may also subject women who engage in sex work to widespread social exclusion, discrimination, and vilification within their communities and in the end, “further relegate them to the margins of society.”

“Whereas, going public may also have serious implications and repercussions to these victims as it may serve to further antagonize their already tenuous, and often abusive, relationship with the PNP,” De Lima pointed out.

“This is particularly problematic given the numerous reports of policemen committing acts of harassment, abuse, and even violence amidst the enhanced community quarantine,” she lamented.

De Lima reiterated gender-based violence is a serious issue that deserves “more than just a passing glance” from the national government.

“Putting an end to gender-based violence is an issue of social justice and a society that is free from any and all forms of violence against women constitutes a vision of society that should be aspired for,” the senator said.