The glow of the neon lights from the tourists' belt lit the street corner where pimps and traffickers plied their trade - selling children into prostitution. I was there with a visitor from Ireland wondering if it was still going on. Within minutes we had an answer. A neatly dressed woman approached and offered us two 11 year-old children for sex. She named her price, one hundred dollars for each child, plus an additional payment for the brothel operator called the mamasan where the children were being kept. We agreed to meet in a few days at a restaurant. I arranged with the police to set a trap. They did, pretending to be taxi drivers outside and customers inside. A woman officer led them from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), with whom we coordinate our rescue and investigative activities. I went into the restaurant with my friend and saw the two kids. They looked ten or eleven. The mamasan, a middle-aged woman was guarding them. The smartly dressed pimp came over and all went outside. Then the mamasan brought the children down the road and out of the police trap. They were playing "hard to get" as the pimp bargained for more money. It was an example of slave-trading children of the worst kind. We agreed to pay more and the pimp left to get the children but failed to return. While we were waiting near the car park a male pimp offered us two 12-year-old children, he named his price and left. After twenty minutes he came back with two young twelve-year olds and took the marked money I offered. I nodded to the waiting police and social workers. They immediately arrested the pimp and rescued the two children. A new better life awaits them. The pimp will be tried in court. We hope to find the other children that were taken by the mamasan but it will be no easy task. The operation was videotaped with a hidden camera so that tourism officials cannot deny that child prostitution is still rampant in the Philippines and much has to be done to end sex tourism. Foreign sex tourists offer huge sums for children more than locals do. Fr Shay is a Columban priest working in the Phillipines.
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