The trial of two Filipino women in what government officials said was a “landmark” human trafficking case began here on Monday.
Jennifer B. Nicdao, 27, and Angelita D. Amparado, 39 were charged at the District Court with trafficking in persons and aiding and abetting the breach of condition of stay after they allegedly brought to Hong Kong, last July, five Filipinas who ended up working as prostitutes in the city’s red light district in Wan Chai.
Government prosecutor Edward Le Breton Laskey said the two women were the first Filipino women charged with human trafficking outside the Philippines. However, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and their trial is expected to last until Thursday.
“This is the first case that Filipinas were prosecuted outside the Philippines in relation to trafficking of people. This has not happened in Singapore or the Middle East,” said Laskey during a break in Monday’s hearing.
“I am told that officials in the Philippines, including an adviser to the President, are very interested in this case,” he added.
Laskey said that he had handled cases of Thai or Chinese traffickers bringing into Hong Kong women for prostitution but this was the first time that he encountered the case of Filipino women being charged for the crime.
“This is a landmark case because, if the authorities before charged only the trafficked women they arrested, this time, they’re going after the traffickers themselves,” said Vice-Consul Val Roque, head of the Assistance of Nationals section of the Philippine Consulate.
The five complainants in the case initially sought the help of the Philippine Consulate before going to the police. The police then raided several bars in Wan Chai on August 4 and invited for questioning at least 35 Filipino women, including Nicdao and Amparado.
According to Laskey, a certain Loida approached the first two victims in June and offered them work in Hong Kong.
Loida then introduced the women to Amparado, who allegedly told them that they would work as entertainers in a club, and this could include providing sexual services to customers, so that they could later pay the P60,000 for their plane ticket and their hotel accommodation.
According to one of the victims, the “loan” of P60,000 had to be repaid within three months after they arrived in Hong Kong.
There was supposed to be a written contract and Amparado allegedly even threatened one of the victims that she could end up in jail if she failed to pay up. “(Amparado) told her that she could earn money by drinking with customers but if she wanted to earn more money and repay the loan quickly, then she should have sex with customers,” Laskey said.
The women earned their keep by getting commissions from the drinks their customers bought at the bar or by walking the streets to look for customers who would pay for sex. The first two victims arrived in Hong Kong on July 26, 2007, and Amaparado and Nicdao allegedly brought them to a flat in Wan Chai.
“(Amparado) had asked (one of the victims) to have sex with customers so as to repay the loan to her. (Amparado) had also reminded her to have sex with customers every day,” Laskey said. “On one occasion, Amparado took her to a club and asked her to approach the customers for sex. (She) refused. (Amparado) got angry and said (she) must have sex with customers on the next occasion,” he added.
The two other complainants, who were allegedly also introduced by Loida to Amparado, said Amparado told them that customers would usually pay around HK$2,000 (P10,840) for sex so they had “to bargain” to “fix the price at HK$2,500 (P13,550).”
“(The victims) subsequently felt that they had been exploited by (the accused) and went to seek assistance from the Philippine Consulate General on August 2, 2007,” Laskey said.
Nicdao was arrested in the morning of August 4 and she denied the accusation while Amparado was arrested on the same day. She refused to answer any question during the police investigation.
Adapted from: Philip Tubeza,"2 Filipinas tried for trafficking compatriots in Hong Kong."
Global Nation. 3 December 2007
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