Press Release
November 1, 2010

Pia: Prostitution of women inmates at Sorsogon jail must be investigated

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) must seriously look into allegations that women inmates are being forced into prostitution by no less than prison personnel at the Sorsogon Provincial Jail.

Cayetano made the call following news reports that Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee has recommended the suspension of their provincial jail warden and several jail guards for allegedly taking female prisoners out of the detention center, getting them drunk, and then offering them to male customers for a fee.

"The government must order a full-scale investigation into reports that women inmates at the Sorsogon Provincial Jail were brought out of their detention cells and allegedly forced into prostitution by their jail custodians," said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations.

"Those responsible can be held liable under Article 431 of the Revised Penal Code, the law against white slavery. If reports about prostitution in our jails turn out to be true, then it speaks so much of the ills in our penal system that the government must immediately address and rectify," she added.

Cayetano, a lawyer, noted that there is currently no law that particularly addresses prostitution in detention facilities, although reports about this happening in jails across the country are occasionally reported in the media.

"In the 14th Congress, I sponsored on the floor Senate Bill No.2431, the proposed 'Anti-Prostitution Act of 2010,' which includes a provision that specifically defines the criminal liability of a jail official or staff who commits, promotes, facilitates or tolerates the commission of prostitution upon inmates."

"Unfortunately, the bill didn't pass then. But I urge my fellow lawmakers to make this measure a priority in the 15th Congress to strengthen current laws and to protect women inmates from abusive officials."

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