A Twitter user discovered various public group chats in messaging application Telegram that featured pictures of scantily-clad women offering sexual services written in Chinese.
The discovery came after Sen. Risa Hontiveros previously exposed sex trafficking that was done through messaging apps.
User @russelmatthew_ shared that it all started when he got “curious” on one of Telegram’s features where users can enter public group chats based on their location through the “Find People Nearby” option.
ok so i got curious about telegram's find people nearby feature and i discovered a chi/nese s/ex d/en wtffffffffffff does the govt know about this :/
— rus (@russelmatthew_) February 25, 2020
However, what he discovered disturbed him. The Telegram user claimed on a Twitter thread that there were around three group chats based in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City which featured suggestive pictures of women.
Independent verification of Interkasyon confirmed that there are at least three group chats of this nature in the financial and lifestyle district of Taguig City.
Two of them contain suggestive pictures of mostly foreign-looking women and offer sexual services written in Chinese characters.
One of the messages, when translated using Google’s translation services, reads: “Want some good services like massage, sex, oral sex and anal sex, please text me for more information.”
Twitter user @russelmatthew_ additionally claimed that other people have been messaging him about similar group chats reportedly based in Makati, Eastwood, Ortigas, Alabang and Pasay.
One of the commenters in his thread shared a screengrab of a message written in Chinese with numbers. It appeared similar to what Hontiveros and her team have previously exposed in the Senate.
I saw this in one Chinese group chat near my place. I don't know what it means. The group has photos of scantily clad women. pic.twitter.com/QEBOEbAKYC
— space oddity⁷ (@office_crush) February 26, 2020
User @russelmatthew_ also urged them to send the screengrabs of the messages to authorities.
He called the attention of Hontiveros, who previously exposed the existence of women—Filipinas and non-Filipinas—being pimped through Telegram and WeChat, a popular multi-purpose messaging app based in China.
POGOs and prostitution
Last month, Hontiveros said her team managed to infiltrate “secret Chinese chatgroups” on Telegram and WeChat which offered their Chinese members pictures of women in suggestive poses and clothing.
She likened the services to “GrabFood” where the women were being offered as if they were dishes bought via a food delivery app.
“Yung mga babae parang inoorder lang sa app ng mga Chinese members ng group na ito—parang Grabfood, may menu, may presyo, then darating na lang sa hotel o condo mo,” Hontiveros wrote on Facebook.
Through the group chats, the senator’s team learned that there was a system of purchasing women based on their ethnicities and the extent of sexual acts being offered.
Our volunteers were able to infiltrate secret Chinese chatgroups online. Ito ang ilan sa mga nasa WeChat at…
A victim of the scheme, who earlier testified at a Senate hearing into sex trafficking in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) industry under the pseudonym of “Carina,” said that she was recruited to work as a masseuse who would give extra services like sex.
She is being paid P3,000 to P7,000 per customer but half of her earnings would go to her handlers who were reportedly a Chinese and Filipina couple.
Hontiveros said Chinese workers in the offshore gaming industry have resorted to online schemes such as hiring women for sex after authorities began raiding various prostitution dens in the metro.
She called on the government to suspend POGOs in the country as “they attract criminals.”
“Pati ‘yung mga sarili nating kababaihan at kabataan, nabibiktima na,” Hontiveros previously said.
An official from the Bureau of Immigration also separately revealed that they caught foreign men in sex den raids who turned out to be POGO employees.
POGOs emerged in the Philippines after Chinese President Xi Jinping banned them in China’s mainland and President Rodrigo Duterte‘s policies had allowed licenses to the Chinese-run businesses.
Duterte himself said the Philippines needs POGOs, saying the government is keeping them regulated.
A Bureau of Internal Revenue official, meanwhile, estimated that a majority of licensed POGOs failed to pay P50 billion in taxes last year.