Former US Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas, tried to warn everyone. Back in 2011, Ambassador Thomas stirred up a diplomatic row. The former Ambassador remarked that “40 per cent of foreign men who come to the Philippines, including from the US, come for sexual tourism.”
Truth Speaker Thomas
“That is not something I’m proud of. That’s not something you should be proud of,” Thomas went on to say. Thomas was speaking before a round-table discussion among Court of Appeals magistrates in Manila at the time.
The Ambassador alleged that a high profile string of karaoke bars and clubs along Roxas Boulevard in Manila were infamous sex establishments.[i]
In fact, the US Embassy is located on Roxas Boulevard.
Thomas later apologized for his remarks. He had pissed off a few people in the Philippines.
Personally, I felt Thomas didn’t have anything to apologize for. In fact, his 40% figure was probably too conservative. Unfortunately, there are plenty of “sexpats” lurking in the Philippines.
Americans Top List of Sex Offenders Barred from Entering Philippines in 2017
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) barred from entering the Philippines last year a total of 187 registered sex offenders (RSOs) or foreigners convicted of sex crimes in their home countries.
153 Americans topped the list, followed by 19 Australians and 10 Brits.
Isn’t that shameful? Most noteworthy is that no other country even came close to the United States.
An average of 10 to 15 RSOs are being turned back at the airports every month. BI Port Operations Division Chief Marc Red Mariñas revealed that the number of RSOs denied entry increased in 2017. 144 sex felons were intercepted in the different airports in 2016. That was 43 fewer than 2017.
RSOs refer to convicted sex offenders who have finished serving their sentences or have been released on probation or parole.
In the United States and most Western countries, the government maintains a sex offender registry that allows authorities to keep track of the activities and movement of sex offenders.
Sex offenders intercepted at the airports are immediately turned away.
Offenders’ names and derogatory records would immediately register a hit on the computer screens the moment their passports were swiped by Immigration Officers in their scanners.
Morente attributed the successful interdiction of the RSOs to the following:ontinued cooperation extended to the BI by its counterparts abroad, including Interpol, and Police Attaches of the various foreign embassies in Manila.
He said these agencies have been continuously providing the BI with the names and identities of foreign sex offenders. Once submitted, their names could be placed in the Bureau’s Blacklist and turned back if they attempted to enter the Philippines.
“These aliens pose a serious and real threat to our Filipino women and children, anyone of whom could be their next victim if they manage to enter our country undetected,” the BI Chief said.
Mariñas also reported that the 90 percent of intercepted RSOs attempted to enter the NAIA while the rest were stopped at the airports in Mactan, Cebu and Clark, Pampanga.[ii]
Restrictions on Traveling Abroad for Sex Offenders from the US
But I wondered what restrictions convicted US sex offenders had if they wanted to travel overseas?
I discovered that in some cases, they can be denied a visa to enter another country.
That process became even more formalized under a law enacted in 2016 which is known as the International Megan’s Law.
Writing in the Washington Post, Chris Smith hailed the new law as an “important step” to eradicating sex tourism.
He was concerned that the United States wasn’t doing enough to prevent convicted pedophiles from traveling abroad to abuse children.
The new law designates two types of registered sex offenders required to include a mark on their American passport.
Two types of sex offenders required to comply with the new statute:
- People who have been convicted of a sex crime involving a minor,
- or those required to register as a sex offender with the National Sex Offender Registry or in any state
The new law states that the identification must be a “visual designation affixed to a conspicuous location” on the offender’s passport. As a result, the law prevents any passport-issuing authority from giving a sex offender a passport unless the mark is included.
The International Megan’s Law set up a new reciprocal and comprehensive notification system between U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies over the travel of people required by law to be on government sex-offender registries.
Smith listed a number of nations that see large amounts of sex tourism including Thailand, Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, and Peru.
Restricted Travel for Sex Offenders
Consequently, the aim of the new law is to restrict travel for people who have been convicted of offenses involving children. It’s particularly aimed at nations with a thriving sex industry.
A report in 2008 said least 4,500 registered sex offenders received passports. Now, the requirement for their status to be marked on their passport is likely to make it more difficult for them to travel.
Smith said The International Megan’s Law honors Megan Kanka — a girl from his hometown of Hamilton, N.J. who Megan’s Law was named after. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1994 by a neighbor.
People living in the vicinity did not know he was a convicted sex offender.
Furthermore, after a long campaign, all 50 states passed Megan’s laws requiring public notification of convicted sex offenders living in any community. [iii]
SOURCES AND CITATIONS
[i] News.com.au (2011, Sept. 23) ‘Forty per cent of men visit Philippines for sex’ – US ambassador. Retrieved from News.com.au. http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/forty-per-cent-of-men-visit-philippines-for-sex/news-story/75129a5911a809efa9be7190dc7f6315
[ii] Bureau of Immigration. (2017, Jan. 10) “187 Alien Sex Offenders Barred from Entering in RP in 2017.” Retrieved from Philippine Bureau of Immigration website. http://www.immigration.gov.ph/images/News/2018_Jan/2018Jan10_187AlienSexOffenders.pdf
[iii] Peek & Toland. (2017, February 23) “Restrictions on Traveling Abroad for Sex Offenders.” Retrieved from Peek & Toland, Attorneys at Law. https://www.peekandtoland.com/restrictions-on-traveling-abroad-for-sex-offenders/