Zambo health official denies prostitution in evacuation centers

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/22 April) – A health official here has denied reports of prostitution and brothel operations inside an evacuation center, particularly at the Mayor Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Complex.

Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, city health officer, issued the statement following published reports that prostitution activities proliferate at the sports complex. “When we talk about prostitution inside evacuation camps, I would negate that it is still happening now,” Agbulos said.

Thousands of people, who were displaced by the September 2013 siege staged by members of the Moro National Liberation Front, are still housed in evacuation centers and transitory sites in this city.

The sports complex, which was divided into four zones, is the largest evacuation center.

Agbulos admitted that incidents of prostitution involving freelance sex workers were noted during the first two months after the siege because there was curfew imposed all over the city.

However, Agbulos said that these freelance sex workers took to the streets and are no longer inside the evacuation centers after the curfew was lifted.

Agbulos cited the results of the separate inspections carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Task Force Buenas, and the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, which corroborated the report of his office that no prostitution exists within the evacuation centers.

The Task Force Buenas is a composite team of health personnel and policemen that inspect night establishments. Lately the task force has joined in monitoring the evacuation centers.

Agbulos disclosed that only two cases of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) were noted during medical consultations held from March until this month at the evacuation centers and transitory sites.

“We are not trying to hide any figures, we are not trying to hide any statistics, but this is based on our office’s assessment,” Agbulos emphasized.