The Cybercrime Law, HIV/AIDS & Sex In The Philippines

sex in the philippinesA lot of conversation has gone on in so many of the expat online forums that discuss life in the Philippines about the ‘bad apple’ Filipina.  Everyone has their own first-hand account of some gold-digging, lying Filipina who pulled a scam on them at some point (or tried to) whether living here or in an online dating site.  But only once in a while is there very much discussion about the Expat ‘bad apples’ who make the rest of us look bad.   Today as I started my day at the crack of.. 9a.m. (ish) I came upon an article about this guy who got arrested for allegedly running a sex-slave den in Barangay Labangon in Cebu City.

Now, let me begin by making a few disclosures here.  Yes, the guy was arrested and since he has not gone to trial yet he is still presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.   In general principle I am all for the assumption of innocence prior to the facts being examined in greater detail.  Now, having said this.. I still have a few thoughts of my own personal opinion simply going by the few and as yet unverified bits of information disclosed in the reporter’s article.  Regarding his stated innocence, I suppose it’s within the realm of possibility that some disgruntled ex-employee (he claims he was running an online bookkeeping service) could have run to the police with a false allegation of sexual abuse.  I have no doubt that’s happened to a lot of truly innocent expats who were blackmailed after a simple hook-up one night.

However, in this case the investigation and surveillance that went on since last year was instigated by a neighbor who noticed lots of teenage girls going in an out of his residence, making a bit of noise as well.   According to the article 15 girls were ‘rescued’ and several of them were minors.  I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to find a 15 year old girl who is a whiz at bookkeeping.  That part just doesn’t add up.  As for porn on his laptop, that brings up an interesting discussion when living here in the Philippines.

Two things are true;  (1)  The Philippines is a very conservative country regarding its cybersex/porn laws and (2)  Most men, no matter where they come from have an interest in porn.  It took me about two months walking around here before it finally occurred to me that no matter where I looked in the SM or Ayala malls, or anywhere in town for that matter, there was not an adult-oriented store anywhere to be found.  I asked a Filipina about this and she said, “Are you crazy?  They don’t allow that here.”  I’ve seen girls walking around with Victoria’s Secret bags so I figured there had to be one somewhere.   There is one in Manila and I’m guessing in Angeles city finding lingerie or other adult accouterments is not a problem at all.  But in the sleepy little town of Mactan or even Cebu I guess I just wasn’t looking in the right places.  As for a storefront along the street selling adult items, I definitely have not seen any of those.  Even during Halloween when I tried to find a simple costume for my girl, all the costumes were for little kids.  The few adult-sized ladies costumes they did have were too small for even a small Filipina to fit into.

So, even flying into the country it is not a good idea to be bringing along a porn collection on DVD.  I wouldn’t even have it on any laptop or hard-drive either as that could cause problems as well if you were the one unlucky guy singled out for a TSA search.  Now, most likely it won’t come to that.  But.. if a Filipina even accuses you of having sexually bothered her in some fashion and the police come barging in to see what’s on your laptop or desktop.. having massive amounts of porn on there is not going to help in the least.  Just something to keep in mind.  If you absolutely must have illicit items on your drive, I would suggest truecrypttaking an hour or so to learn how to use a free program like TrueCrypt.  It uses military-grade encryption that would take thousands of years to crack the code.  Combined with a truly secure password you’d be fine.  If you forget the password well, then you’re screwed.

So if you are on a small, rural island and don’t live near Manila or a big mall but want to get something to spice things up with your lady you have two options.  The first is to just improvise.  Can’t find lingerie?  Check out the hosiery section of the department store.  Need some lube?  Check your local pharmacy, and there is one on just about every streetcorner here, they will have the basic stuff but you’re not going to get anything raspberry-flavored like you’re accustomed to.  Same with condoms, the pharmacies have them but usually just a modest selection.  Your other option is to go online.  The problem here is that ordering from a company outside the Philippines is going to charge a LOT for shipping.  And just in case you find one that doesn’t, you have to wonder if Customs isn’t going to either confiscate or re-tax it before you’re allowed to pick it up.  So your best bet is to order from an adult store that is already within the PH.  I won’t recommend any particular one, but you can get a Google Search list by clicking Here.  (no images, just links)

So.. getting back to this guy with the alleged cybersex den, maybe he’s innocent.. maybe he’s guilty.  I have no real idea.  But either way it brings up the fact that not every expat coming to the Philippines is a good egg.  Some guys come here because they have every intent on doing here what they would get caught much quicker doing in their own country.  They see the Philippines as a place ripe with opportunity to exploit young girls for sex.  While it’s true the police and judicial system appears less effective and more corrupt than other 1st-world countries, that actually can work against a criminal here.  If the police officer responds to one of these human/sex-trafficking cases and it turns out one of the girls is say, close friends with his daughter.. well, I’m sure he’ll do his job and all.  But who’s to say a little off-the-books barangay justice doesn’t find this culprit before he ever makes it to trial?  I’m not making any accusations.. just saying, in a culture as conservative and lax as it is here, things can happen.

Back around September of 2012, PH President Aquino III introduced a game-changer with his signing into law the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.  The wording within the law is very wide and open to much interpretation and application when dealing with anything considered ‘illicit’ online.  The following quote sums up a bit about it;

 “ is targeting nearly any cyber activity it can think of, referencing them with some of the vaguest terminology imaginable and thus leaving potential innocent parties open to investigation and action.  

“Cybersex crimes, which could result in imprisonment of between six and ten years or a fine of between around £3,000 and £15,000, are defined as: “The wilful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favour or consideration”. There are a few problems with the terms used here. This part of the act (which also covers child pornography) is designed to combat the Philippines’ huge problem with people trafficking and individuals being forced into cybersex activities for the profit of a ringleader.”

This makes it a whole lot easier for the police, or any accuser, to have a bit of leeway in deciding what is deemed cybersex activity.  To me, that just means a whole new opportunity for the Filipina ‘bad apples’ to threaten/extort for money after what seemed to start out as a quick hook-up at the bar.  Same for a maid you had to fire because she was caught either stealing or not doing her job.  You let her go and next thing you know, she’s telling the cops to seize your computers.  Whether it all turns out fine or not, you’re still inconvenienced and judged by the local gossip.  Not a good scene.

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It remains to be seen how, or if, they will deal with the popular Filipina Dating sites and Craigslist ads.  While most are women looking to date, many are not.  And those ads about in-home, ‘happy’, full-massage easily fall into the suspicion of sex-for-money illicit activity.  Probably not something to really get alarmed about.  I mean, it’s not like they’re going to shut down the entire city of Angeles in order to enforce the cybersex or human-trafficking laws.  Much like Mexico, the law gets applied when and where it seems to be the most convenient, or profitable.

Meanwhile, these guys who come here and exploit the girls for their own profit aren’t doing any of us decent foreigners any good.  Just like the A-hole expat who goes ape-sh*t on a cashier because there was no cheese on his Champ burger.. it stinks things up for the rest of us who just want to enjoy the Philippines in a legal, leisurely manner.  I’m all for whatever adult fun any two legally-aged, consenting adults want to do in their own privacy.   But like any other right-minded Expat I draw the line at exploiting an underage girl.  We gotta draw the line somewhere or else all chaos breaks loose.

Now, there’s been a longstanding debate over whether or not prostitution should be legalized or not.  On the one side, it’s said that it leads to exploitation, forced sex-slavery, racketeering and STD’s aside from the whole moral argument on the issue.  However, on the other side of the argument is the position that it is a ‘victim-less crime’, payment for a service rendered and that if it were legalized women could choose to enter it at their own discretion, fully licensed, taxable and with regular health screenings in order to remain licensed.  That deals with the whole forced-slavery, STD issue right there.  The counter-argument is that it will lead to a decay in moral values.  My response to that is, “Well, keeping it illegal isn’t exactly preventing it from occurring.

But, it’s kind of a non-issue in a sense the way I see it.  Especially here in the Philippines.  While I would like to see it legalized (probably never happen here) in order to get a hold on the whole STD/AIDS issue, the fact of the matter is there’s really no reason a guy should ever have to pay for sex here.  I mean, come on.. let’s face it; going to a strip bar and paying a girl to give you a thrill is about the laziest, easiest thing to do.  Where’s the fun and adventure in that?  It’s like hiring someone to wax your car.  So to speak.  Meanwhile there are plenty of wonderful women who are a bit on the wild side who simply enjoy having sex with foreigners.  It may take a little more finesse to single out these girls and make sure it’s a “for fun” proposition, but therein lies the chase.. and the fun.

What about AIDS/HIV?  What’s the Story there?

I did a bit of looking around to get some representative data on the Philippines, the USA and Thailand for comparison.  The data ranges from 2009, reported for 2013 Demographics reports on each country.  Here’s what I found;

HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate —  .1%
People living with HIV/AIDS —  8,700
HIV/AIDS Deaths —  less than 200

United States:
HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate —  .6%
People living with HIV/AIDS —  1,200,000
HIV/AIDS Deaths —  17,000

HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate —  1.3%
People living with HIV/AIDS —  530,000
HIV/AIDS Deaths —  28,000

Now, there are a few things to consider when looking at this data.  One factor is population size.  But the percentage for Prevalence Rate already takes that into account.  On that note, you actually stand a higher chance of running into someone with AIDS/HIV in Thailand or the US than you would in the Philippines.  Interesting.  Another thing to notice is that while Thailand has only a small fraction of the population as the USA.. it still manages to host more than half the number of people infected in numbers as the US.  Even on a percentage basis, you’re 13 times more likely to encounter someone infected in Thailand than with a person in the Philippines.

Another thing to consider is proximity.  While the Prevalence Rate is low for Philippines and so-so for the US while being highest of the three in Thailand.. in all three countries thenightlife likelihood goes way UP when you’re talking about the Sexually Active Crowd.  AIDS doesn’t make any note of whether anyone is getting paid or not.  It’s not like you have less chance of contracting based on whether the girl is doing it for fun or for a modest fee.  The likeliness of infection is based on how active a person you’re with is.  So.. chances are very good that you’ll be fine looking for a new love with one of the simple, local girls who has never seen the inside of a bar.. while your odds start rising as you move towards the Pros, bar-girls, ladyboys and party-girls.

Finally, on a percentage basis.. you’re simply safer in the Philippines than you would be in the US, statistically speaking.  Thailand or Africa.. well, forgetaboutit.  That’s some dicey odds there.

I’d say if you take a wide-angle shot of the situation it boils down to this:   Use some good sense, be particular about who you sex it up with and once you get married.. just call it a day and be faithful to her and you’ll be fine.  As for the ‘bad apple’ expats that come to exploit underage or naive girls for their own profit.. well, this is not the place to be when justice finally comes knocking on your door.  Prison followed up with deportation is not a good way to go.  And that’s the best-case scenario.  Pull that crap out in the province areas and, well.. good luck with that.

For the rest of us.. there’s plenty to enjoy in a safe, legal manner.   Take the usual precautions, be selective, know when it’s time to settle down and it’s all good.

Henry ‘Reekay’ V.


Author: Reekay

About Me.. In 2011 I made the decision to move to the Philippines within a year. Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat. (Mactan, Bohol, Panglao, Moalboal, Dumaguete, Bacong, Boracay, Cebu) I recently spent the year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Share with me here my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Dating, vlogging, cooking, traveling and sharing the information with you needed to make your own plans for living as a full-time expat in Southeast Asia.
— Reekay


  1. Henry… Really a no non-sense short article; very well done. Informative, comparative and culturally-awakening for the Expats. Especially for those that have an itch to become the Ugly-American, to act like an ass and in the process…paint good-folk expats in a bad light. Thanks for sharing. Great advice! Brad

    1. Thanks. I was waiting for a taxi at the mall once and some Norwegian was barking out loud, complaining about how inefficient the PH was.. as if he'd never have to wait for a taxi in any other country. He went on for about five minutes and I so much wanted to slap the crap out of him. But that would have gone downhill fast. Even so, bugs the hell out of me and several Filipinos I've spoke with say they silently tell themselves at such moments, "If you don't like it here.. LEAVE!" hahaha!

  2. Great insight on a sensitive subject. The laws on sex crimes are there for a reason. Many foreigners take advantage of people here but even worse many of the locals actually sell theochildren for money. This is a shame and anyone foreign or local caught in this type of activity needs to be punished severally.

    1. As I was reading up on the subject I came across article/video about a guy in Thailand.. guilty as hell (from France) who had over 30 boys testify against him, countless photos that were seized showing the child-porn he was producing at his property and.. was found not-guilty. The judge is finally being investigated for bribery and a new trial date has been set.

  3. Hello Henry: Thank you for having a balanced perspective. Some sites have defended this man. A site identified him as Shobbrook (an Australian). This site went as far as blaming the Filipinas. This website is own by an Anglo-American man who lives in Cebu. By defending characters like these, it makes male foreigners look bad in the Philippines.

    1. That’s insane. I don’t know what site you’re talking about, but I’ve seen some PH/travel sites where you can just tell the guy writing it is full of bitterness about Filipinas. And the ironic thing is, it’s probably because HE was the one dumb enough to quickly trust the wrong Filipina to get what he wanted. And when he got burned.. labels all Filipinas as bad. This is why I tell men here, “Take it slow.. get to know these girls.” before making commitments or handing out money. If a man is foolish and hasty, I blame him 50% for getting scammed. As for those putting the blame on the victim.. not cool.

  4. Well I could care less about how people want to act. Americans or expats are not perfect but neither are the people living in the Philippines that are known for trying to con or steal from people, which also makes them look bad. You also brought up exploitation of young girls. Are you even aware that many many years ago, girls as young as 14 were able to have sex with men much older than them legally? That stuff didn't become a law until the US made it a law like they did with everything else including drinking. Then every other country wanted to be just like the U.S. just like in some parts of the world its okay to use drugs that here in the US you would be jailed for. Steroids are illegal here, but in most European countries it's legal. When the U.S says something is illegal, everyone else wants to follow. Sort of like how the U.S. is against homosexuality, Russian is also against it. the U.S. is trying to find ways to legalize it but Russia wants to keep it illegal. This very day I still think its bullshit how weed is illegal yet cigs and alcohol isn't. I don't smoke, but either way cigs might as well be a drug. Yet you still have to be 21 not 20 to drink or else it counts as underage drinking and you can be jailed for it. I'm trying to figure out how the fuck is 20 underage? or why someone has to be 18 to view or be in porn when 18 is only a slight year older than 17. Again another dumb law that wants to limit people based on their age on whether or not they can or cannot do something, that's all Gov control shit man. Also 17 isn't even underage either (sex wise). All countries have their own consent laws. I remember in Japan it was 14 at one point. Yet in China an 11 year old or under can buy and smoke cigs legally. Like I said, all countries have their own laws. And it's not up to me or you to judge how they choose to let their people live regardless of how you feel or think about it. I mean in Africa, they cut up 13 year old boys with blades as a right of passage to manhood. But you cannot judge them or their culture. I hate it when people fuckin do that. Personally I don't care what other cultures or people do on their home turf, shit some countries allow sex between family members while in other places anal sex is illegal. If they want to exploit their own people, that's their business. If they are fine with people killing each other or whatever over religions, allowing kids to smoke, fuck, whatever, again that's their business. The way I look at it, I'm just there to be there. I'm not there to change the world and tell them what I feel is wrong and what is off limits. If that was the case, I would vote in America against things I don't agree with, but I don't. I live my life, and I let other people live theirs. Age laws never would exist if it wasn't for the United States. And I've met plenty of kids that drink liquor and do drugs that come from broken homes way back when I was a kid myself. Thing is I felt bad for them, but I didn't tell them "Hey you can't or shouldn't be doing this."

    1. Not really sure what your point was. But when we’re living in another country, it’s their laws and culture we live by. If we don’t like it, it’s best we not live there. Simple as that.

  5. Great article. I read about their broad definition of cyber-crime. i think extortion can be a real problem in the Philippines. I don’t believe the AIDS numbers. I believe they are vastly under reported. i’d guess it is really probably higher than the US by lower than Thailand.

  6. Your the best Henry! I'm learning so much from you and your video's. I'm from Chicago and deeply considering the move! Thanks for doing what you do!

  7. I should be happy when you pointed out that the Philippines is a lot safer than Thailand and the USA when it comes to the HIV infection, but I am not. Knowing that my country is one of the countries with HIV infection scares me. I am not going to judge people here because for sure not all of them got HIV by prostituting themselves, but I am just sad that this has happened. The country is poor, and the number of people having HIV is increasing each year…That is just alarming.

    As for the cyber sex dens, there are many of those in hiding. When I was in the country, I used to watch Ted Failon's show and Imbestigador. Both programs would highlight cyber sex stuff whenever they catch them. What annoys me is that sometimes it involves young girls and boys. The worst part is when parents allowed their kids to do this stuff for some easy money because they don't want to work.

    No, I am not putting my fellowmen in a bad light. This is certainly happening. I can't just ignore it. If my comment ever stings someone, well it has been my observation. And yes, I am a Filipina, but I don't want to close my eyes when bad things are happening. I am scared of my country's future because I care about it and want it to improve, not to rot with HIV and cyber sex dens.

    1. It’s a sad reality but fortunately these people running them are slowly caught, one by one, since it is hard to keep any secrets in the PH. Neighbors always know and watch anything going on in their area.

  8. I have a question here…
    We all know how poor the Filipino people are? Hence, it means a population that is very weak in education. In another word, they could have STD but not know it? The people, facilities and skills are just not there (or costly) to detect such a thing?

    How would anybody know then?
    And when you add to this the many expats (foreigners) plus the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) to the equation, how can you tell that none of them is not ‘contaminated’ without even knowing it!?

    You might meet a Sunday church girl that spent all her life praying but then all it takes is just that one mistake!

  9. yeah if you have to pay for sex in the philippines something has to be really wrong with you. i would be to affraid to sleep with an hoocker or even with some one that i am not in an relationship with. i think that any man or woman that they catch prostituting they should have them take an hiv test and if they continue to prostituttion after knowing about the hiv they should lock them up for public saftey reasons. i think they should legalize it so it can be regulated and taxed so people will be safe

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  11. You are saying the doctor cured your HIV? Nonsense there is no known cure only drugs that suppress it to some extent!

  12. The Philippines is not safer that Thailand of the USA when it comes to HIV infection. You have to understand the population differential in the US and as regards Thailand statistics show the opposite. I find the figures quoted regarding The Philippines highly suspect given the Catholic church's perennial meddling in affairs of state. Disagree if you must time will tell!

  13. I do not believe The Philippines is safer than the US or Thailand when it comes to HIV infection. The population of the states is much greater and as regards Thailand statistics show the opposite.

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