Suspect's home 'a hive of Filipinas'

Suspect's home 'a hive of Filipinas'

The home of a Singaporean who could face human trafficking charges in the Philippines has a steady stream of Filipinas, according to a neighbour.

Mr Robin James Chua, 47, lives in an Orchard Road condominium. The Straits Times saw rows of high heels and other women's shoes on the shoe rack outside the 12th-floor flat Wednesday.

Although there were sounds of activity within, nobody answered the door. Said the neighbour, who declined to be named: "I see a lot of Filipino ladies. Quite a few of them stay there, but not for long and the women keep changing."

Official records show Mr Chua, who has been married twice in Singapore, as the director and managing director of Rapids PRD pub in Tanjong Pagar since 2005.

Cebu assistant city prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas said Wednesday that her country's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had been monitoring Mr Chua, a frequent visitor since 2006.

He was stopped at Mactan-Cebu International Airport from leaving for Singapore on Oct 12, and taken in for questioning with his Filipino girlfriend Fraulline May Soria and her aunt Lurlie Soria.

The trio, along with victim Jeremay Buenaventura, 22, gave inconsistent statements to investigators, said Ms Rabillas, who also heads the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking at the airport.

The trio could face charges under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act. Their passports have been impounded, but they have not been detained.

According to NBI documents obtained by The Straits Times, Ms Buenaventura was to work as an entertainer in a Singapore bar owned by Mr Chua.

She would get "no fixed monthly salary" but could earn a weekly commission of 20,000 pesos ($570). She could also "choose to have sex with customers who will become her boyfriends".

Ms Buenaventura told investigators the money would be of help to her parents and four-year-old son. To clear immigration, she and Ms Lurlie Soria, who was pretending to be a tomboy, posed as lovers on a "brief lovers' vacation".

Ms Rabillas added that two more of Mr Chua's recruits had tried to leave the country since he was stopped from leaving the Philippines. An attempt on Oct 13 was foiled, but another on Oct 14 succeeded. Ms Rabillas said: "I'd like to presume that she is now working in Rapids, in Chua's bar."

When The Straits Times visited Rapids Wednesday evening, there were no customers. A bartender, who gave his name as Teddy, claimed Rapids does not hire Filipinas.

Ms Azlinda Doalim, listed as the company's secretary in official records, said Mr Chua is a silent partner and that she last saw him last month.

Another part-owner of the bar, Mr Ivan Koh, could not be reached Wednesday. Nobody answered the door at his Bishan home.


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