THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) has expressed alarm over the likely resurgence of sex tourism in the country as indicated by the frequent arrival and interception of foreign sex offenders (FSO) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other major ports of entry.
Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said on Sunday that entry attempts by sex offenders into the country have become almost a “daily trend” and are not limited to the national capital Manila, but are also in provincial airports such as Cebu.
Tansingco also said that some unscrupulous groups or individuals could be promoting sex tourism, the practice of traveling to foreign countries with the intention of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money.
“We will not allow that to happen. We are duty-bound to implement a provision in our immigration act that prohibits the entry of aliens convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. We will not allow the entry of these undesirable aliens to pose a threat to our women and children,” Tansingco said.
He attributed the possible resurgence of sex tourism to the reopening of the country’s border after the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, there was an increase in online exploitation of women and children. When international travel resumed, the number of FSOs rose, which could show that the exploitation is being continued,” he said. “With the return of tourism, foreigners who intend to abuse our hospitality seem to be returning.”
“We warn these predators not to attempt to enter the country, as we have close coordination with different governments, who provide us information about sex offenders that might attempt to enter the Philippines,” he said.
Under the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, those who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, which includes sex offenders, are ineligible to enter the country.
The Philippines is regarded as among the top 10 sex tourism destinations in the world. Others on the list are Germany, the Netherlands, Columbia, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Spain, Kenya and Brazil.
Just over the weekend, BI frontline officers intercepted two more FSOs, identified as Mark David Scanlon and Richard Stuard Patterson, both Americans convicted of sexually molesting minors in the US. They arrived via separate flights at the international airports in Cebu and Manila.
Scanlon, 53, was intercepted after arriving aboard an Eva Air flight from Taiwan at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), while Patterson, 33, was turned back upon arriving from Los Angeles via a Philippine Airlines flight at the NAIA 1 terminal.
Both passengers were sent back to their ports of origin hours after they were denied entry.
Information obtained by the BI revealed that in 2012, a court in Cook County, Illinois, convicted Scanlon on the charge of indecently soliciting a child over the internet.
On the other hand, Patterson was convicted in Oregon in May 2011 on the charges of sexual abuse in the second degree and sodomy in the third degree, where the victims were 15 and 13 years old, respectively.
Scanlon and Patterson are only two of the more than 150 foreign registered sex offenders (RSOs) who have been refused entry at the airports since January.
Most RSOs were intercepted at the NAIA, while a few were excluded at the airports in Mactan, Cebu and Clark, Pampanga.