Four women were on their way to Bangkok, Thailand Sunday evening, 2 January 2017, for a vacation together with their “employer” named Jeanett Reyes. But they were intercepted by the Bureau of Immigration after they were interviewed at the airport. Why and what happened?
Last December 2016, another typhoon hit the Philippines damaging houses and other properties in the Bicol region. It is during this time of need that many Filipinos would accept any offer to earn easy money and Jeanett Reyes took advantage of the situation.
These women admitted that Reyes offered them a job abroad amounting to $8,700.00 USD in payment. That’s less than half a million pesos given the current exchange rate. The job, for them, was simple: to be surrogate mothers in Cambodia.
The plan was to undergo medical examinations first before going to Thailand. Upon their arrival in Bangkok, they will start taking vitamins to maintain their health. Once they start to menstruate, they will fly to Cambodia and will receive $200.00 USD. Insemination will follow. Once the fetal heartbeat is heard, they will receive another $500.00 USD and $300.00 USD per month during their pregnancy. The balance of $3,500.00 USD will be given within seven days after giving birth.
The sad part was, these women did not inform their families about this. They lied that it was just a short-term job or a vacation abroad. They never thought that they will be intercepted by the Immigration authorities and now they feared that they might never return to their families alive.
Jeanett Reyes insisted that there was nothing illegal in what she did since these women were not yet pregnant. However, the NBI said that this is already an exploitation, citing violations against Republic Acts 9208 and 8042. Jeanett Reyes was arrested for human trafficking (RA 9208) and illegal recruitment (RA 8042). Her financier and supposedly master mind of this crime, Su-Lynn Phan, a Thai national, is still at large.
AFTERMATH AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
The issue of surrogate motherhood is already controversial in itself. Jeanett explained to these women that the child they will be bearing is not their blood relation. It will come from an egg cell and sperm cell of couples who can’t have a child and chose in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood as their course of action. These women understood that. They will just bear the pregnancy in exchange of half a million pesos. Ethical and moral issues are up for debate here.
Not only that, the crime itself is an example of objectifying women or treating women as objects or tools of the trade.
The NBI warns the public of this modus operandi. Not only it is unsafe for women, the job doesn’t have any security at all. It was reported that Jeanett was able to recruit a second batch of women. Thank goodness, they were spared of the humiliation which these four women suffered at the airport.