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Tourism without trafficking

By: Editorial September 13,2014 - 10:54 AM

The Cebu Provincial Board’s Anti-Child Sex Trafficking Ordinance is good as approved, thanks to the efforts of Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who shepherded the bill and drew full support from Capitol legislators.

News reports over the past three yesars in Cebu have covered enough horror stories of cybersex dens and children being escorted by foreign adults to hotels and resorts, sometimes with parents in tow.

The ordinance requires hotels, resorts and other commercial establishments to report to the police any guest checking in with a minor that they deem to be a suspicious setup and to share any video footage taken by security cameras in case of a police investigation.

Note that the ordinance doesn’t single out foreigners.

Nor does it refer to males sor females as potential pedators who may act as pimps.

A national anti-child abuse law already makes it a crime for a minor to be in the company of an adult not related by blood or other legal relationship. But the Cebu province ordinance strengthens it by specificying the tourism industry as the hotbed of these violations.

The front desk staff of hotels and resorts should be more vigilant in noticing whether children are in safe company. They have to use their best judgment and probe, without being rude or discourteous.

It’s a difficult balancing act for an industry that can be soft on “joiners”, the euphemism for female companions who get access to the rooms of male guests.

Paying guests who give a little extra can get staffers to look the other way.

But with the ordinance, there is no room anymore for amibugity in dealing with children brought into the premises.

It may be as simple as interviewing guests or requiring them to fill out more data in their check-in forms.

The big loophole to watch out for is jurisdiction over resorts and hotels in Lapu-Lapu City, the golden seat of Cebu’s tourism industry.

As a highly urbanized city, Lapu-Lapu is not under the territorial or administrative jurisdiction of the Province of Cebu.

Will this ordinance see a mirror version soon in Mactan?

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza would do well to reinforce the campaign after she proudly launched her city during the Ironman 70.3 in May as a heritage and resort city aiming for world class standards.

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