May 7, 2009

The raid at Sanctum (part 1)

“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.

Continue to part 2.


Anonymous wrote on May 8, 2009 at 1:55 PM:

It's a matter of due diligence in my opinion. The owners made the mistake of not knowing the law and their rights as well as taking the proper measures to protect everyone, including themselves and their clients.

Once you don't have any of the proper permits to run a commercial business... you basically tell everyone "hey look at me, I'm going to hand you money in a pretty basket."

There is no way, as in absolutely no way, for anyone to help you legally because it was an illegal operation. No one can back you up, there is no lawyer who will be able to spin that around.

Again, it is just plain laziness. People who want to open a business have to do their due diligence. Read up on the law, learn what can and cannot be done, work with the city government (not hide from it). If it were a legitimate business, people could have helped them. Sadly it wasn't.

If they maintained it non-commercial (not charge for entrance/ drinks but rather asked for "donations" instead), they could have argued that it was a private function in a private house....sadly, this wasn't the case.

Bottomline: Know what you are getting into. You know it to yourself and to the community.

Anonymous wrote on May 8, 2009 at 1:57 PM:

"you owe it to yourself and and to the community" rather. :P

Vince wrote on May 11, 2009 at 2:06 AM:

Tony, as a gay-place owner yourself, your input is very valuable. As I understood it, the owners of Sanctum thought that being a private place is enough. It's a pretty flimsy defense IMHO. I think what did them in is the very business-like nature of the whole thing and not so much on the shows.

Anonymous wrote on January 26, 2010 at 11:08 PM:

I wonder why Fahrenheit and Queeriosity never get raided.
I guess the police are in the payroll of the owners, and that Sanctum failed to their homeworks.

Vince (Discreet Manila) wrote on January 27, 2010 at 1:44 AM:

@Anon, Queeriosity actually got raided: see and if I remember correctly, F had an instance where the police visited for "inspection".

Besides, Sanctum operated like a business but had no business permit.

Anonymous wrote on May 20, 2011 at 6:11 PM:

i know one of the is Danilo Aragon who resides in BF Almanza.