Filipinas stage protest against Ramos &amp&amp


By Centre for Philippine Concerns Australia
MELBOURNE — Filipina-Australians in black clothes and skeletal masks, representing Filipinas killed overseas, condemned Philippines President Ramos in a rally at Melbourne University on August 21. Reacting to the indiscriminate arrest of bar girls in Angeles City prior to Ramos' Australian visit, Melba Marginson of the Campaign Against Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Filipino Women said:
"We protest in the name of all Filipinas killed overseas because their tragic lives were brought about by the institutional poverty created by politicians like Ramos, who act in collaboration with big foreign businesses. The Filipina prostitutes are the victims of the system, yet the culprits — the bar owners and pimps — have escaped untouched, anonymous and safe from police brutality while the women were callously dragged away and paraded to the media for publicity."
The protesters accused Ramos of being the "Philippines' biggest pimp". Marginson said "Prostitution and trafficking of women have become more widespread as the Ramos government continues to boost the tourism industry, which in reality is predominantly sex tourism. In 1993, the Philippines earned $US2.12 billion from tourism. Over 500,000 women and 60,000 children are in prostitution."
The Women's Department of the student union criticised Vice Chancellor Pennington's praise of Ramos as an "outstanding Asian leader".
An Australian delegation of 15 women had been to the Philippines from June 19 to July 7 to investigate Australian men's involvement in sex tourism, prostitution and trafficking of women. They found a situation much more serious than they expected. Syndicates for the prostitution of women and children in Angeles City involve foreign nationals and local police and authorities. Australians own 60% of bars and hotels in the prostitution centres of Angeles City.
On the day the delegation left the Philippines, Ramos announced a crack down in Angeles City and the subsequent arrests elicited widespread criticism from Philippine legislators, media and community leaders. Not one bar was closed down nor one Australian charged and deported, but 45 prostitutes were harassed, arrested and put in rehabilitation centres.