The much-fabled Angeles City in the Philippines is no stranger to bar raids, despite a long history of hosting dozens of go gos where commercial sex services are sourced. While it’s nothing new for law enforcement to hit up a bar here and there, the trend does seem to be increasing, with the last twelve months marked by one bust after another. Interestingly there was a big meeting held in town between the mayor and several bar owners right around the time the Year O’ Raids began. I don’t know exactly what was said in that meeting, but rumor has it that warnings were made. There is even some speculation that the male entertainment scene may be changed forever, or even eliminated completely.
While I don’t think the local operators will roll over and allow the huge currency generator that is Walking Street and its environs to be totally shut down, it does seem that there is an air of change in the wind. Anything is possible and such a thing could actually happen if those in power chose to make certain moves. Of course as the history of human civilizations around the world show, such a move would not eliminate the sex industry. It would simply drive it underground where it would be easier for those with the worst of intentions to take control of things.
Margarita Station in Angeles City maintains a website that often posts local news. One of the most useful aspects of this is their running log of bar raids and closures. In the last twelve months we can see that raids, arrests and/or closures occurred at the following places:
Candy Bar (Again)
This list isn’t even exhaustive, and the attentive reader will notice that some of the places listed here aren’t go go bars at all. Karaoke places and regular old clubs (though frequented by freelancers and semi-pros they surely are) have also been hit up by the powers that be.
One of the most significant raids that I know of was made on the Korean-owned Sisters Bar in mid-April. That event was in a way unique, and to many startling, because along with the management and gals trying to make a few dollars working the bar, several customers were also swept up. According to all sources I could find those customers were doing nothing more than sitting in the bar having some drinks. They were later released without charges, but it’s easy to see why some have been frightened by this event and begin to suggest that the sky may indeed be falling over the city of Angeles.
I don’t have any special insight or information in regards to the continued trend of law enforcement endeavors on and around Walking Street. To me the whole thing seems a bit ridiculous. If the authorities are convinced that the lady bars in Angeles City are breaking the law simply by existing, then why are they allowed to operate openly to begin with? If the problem is individual violations why are so many raids occurring now, and why do so many end without any charges being filed? Sadly, questions like this are difficult to answer in a place with such a lack of transparency.
It seems most likely to me that national and international pressure is being applied to the local authorities in the Balibago to close or at least limit the entertainment district, especially as the “above ground” economy of Angeles City continues to develop. I’m sure big developers don’t want the city they invest in to be most well known for offering sexual services. Most probably local authorities and business people who profit from the existing system are doing their best to fight against that without openly coming into conflict with those more powerful and risking even more problems. This is all just speculation though.
To close I’ll simply link to an earlier post I made on a recent United Nations suggestion that countries like the Philippines legalize sex work and reiterate my heartfelt conviction that prostitution should be legal.
What do you think?