“Guys i was in sanctum two weeks ago and it was raided and 42 of us were arrested and brought to the NBI.”—a Sanctum patron, May 2008
A year ago tonight, Sanctum in Cubao was raided by the NBI. Unlike the earlier raid on Queeriosity Palace back in April 2008, the operation at Sanctum was instigated by Imbestigador, the late-night exposé show of Mike Enriquez of GMA.
For those of you who are not familiar with Sanctum, this was a “private residence that has been opened by a group of friends catering to discreet gays/bi’s looking for a relaxed and safe venue to explore their innermost social and sexual desires,” according to those in charge. Sanctum is apparently a “project” of the Manjobs group that organized various O parties before.
Sanctum was raided on the night of May 7, 2008, during Sanctum’s Wednesday Body Worship (live sex) show. Special operatives of the NBI as well as a TV crew from GMA descended at the intersection of Stanford and Columbia streets in Cubao, Quezon City, forced their way into the house, and apprehended everyone: patrons, performers, and the manager/owner. They were boarded into jeepneys and then taken into custody at NBI in Manila. The owner was charged with violating Republic Act No. 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. In addition, Sanctum was operating like a business but it had no business permit. The owner, one Derek, was detained in a cell pending bail. I don’t know if he got out of jail by now.
Because GMA receives many complaints whenever they air these kinds of operations, they preempted the discussion by seeking the statement of Danton Remoto, the chair of Ang Ladlad. Danton basically agreed with the assertion that it is illegal to operate a commercial establishment without a business license and that the owner is basically just making a profit out of the whole enterprise. However in a later message to the And Ladlad mailing list, Danton claimed that GMA edited out his statements regarding the possibility that the law enforcers will ask kotong (extortion) from the apprehended patrons. These extortions were later confirmed by those apprehended through various messages left online, especially in the Guys4Men forums.
Following are the videos of Imbestigador’s segment featuring the raid. Thanks to Gay Xcandal for taping this.
Practically everyone involved in the mess was vilified by people who have heard of the story. The NBI as vilified for making this as another excuse to extort money from closeted gay people unwilling to be exposed. Mike Enriquez and GMA were vilified for exploiting gay people to jack up their ratings (and there were plenty of catcalls saying that Mike is gay himself and is being a hypocrite). The owners of Sanctum were vilified for operating without a business license. The customers were vilified for patronizing Sanctum and caving into their libido instead of doing other “worthwhile” pursuits. The “gay tipper” was vilified for bringing this misfortune on his fellow gay people (though some question whether there was any tipper at all, claiming that GMA pretended to have a tipper to deflect blame from them). And Danton Remoto himself was vilified for going along with the conclusion of the NBI and GMA instead of helping the victims. Well, this was a pretty sordid affair no matter how you look at it.