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Published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer
(February 11, 2000)


American Arrested in Cebu for Mail-order Bride Trade

CEBU CITY -- An American who owns a fleet of taxicabs here was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion he was exploiting young Filipinas in a mail-order bride business.

A joint team of policemen and National Bureau of Investigation agents collared Perry McNeely, 59, inside a hotel room in Barangay Lahug.

He was with four female college students when he was arrested. The NBI agents said the young women were to be photographed nude by McNeely.

Photos of young Filipinas posing nude computer printouts of more lewd photos and application forms for a "Filipina Penpal" club were found in his hotel room.

The club described itself as based in Washington. The forms contained an invitation for Filipino women to befriend foreigners.

Some computer printouts carried pictures of Filipinas bearin their names, addresses and brief bio-data.

"I got (the computer printouts) on the Internet," said McNeely, a resident of the posh Maria Luisa Estate Park and owner of the JMP fleet of taxis.,

The NBI also raided another hotel room in Barangay Lahug which was being rented by McNeely. The agents found a vibrator, several swimsuits and Women's apparel and a glass of pills, suspected to be Viagra, an anti-impotency medicine.

Ramon Duyongco, NBI director for Central Visayas, said the items seized from McNeely would be used as evidence in filing a case against the American, for violating the Mail Order Bride Law and Child Abuse Law.

He said the NBI had been observing McNeely's activities since early this year. He said the American would entice women to be photographed nude for a fee inside a hotel room or in local beach resorts.

He said McNeely would send the nude photos to contacts abroad, mostly in the United States and Europe.

McNeely, who described himself as a retired airline pilot in the United States, denied the charge. He said he didn't own the nude photos and that the computer printouts were downloaded from the Internet.

His Filipina wife, Janel, 26, also denied knowledge of any of her husband's illegal activities, She said her husband just checked out of a local hospital where he was treated for hepatitis.

The NBI would tap the four young women in McNeely's company as witnesses. They promised to cooperate, said Duyongco.

In an interview, the coeds said they were enrolled in two universities in Cebu City. They said McNeely promised to pay them for a photo session. They wouldn't give more details.

The special law against mail-order brides, signed by former President Corazon Aquino on June 13, 1990, makes it unlawful for anybody to engage in matching Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals on a mail-order basis and other similar practices.

This includes soliciting or attracting a Filipina to become a member in a club whose objective is to match women for marriage to foreigners through personal introduction for a fee. Violators fare six to eight years in prison and a fine of at least P8,000. A foreigner who violates a law would be deported after serving the sentence and paying the fine. He or she would be barred forever from entering the country.

BY TONTON A. ANTOGOP
PDI Visayas Bureau



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