Bonnie Cruz, from Dededo, said she was glad to see the officers arrested.
“Nobody should be above the law,” Cruz said.
Between Friday night and Saturday morning, Officers David Manila, Anthony Quenga and Mario Laxamana were arrested, possibly in connection with the Blue House case. The charges and details of their cases, however, currently are sealed under a court order.
Police and the Office of the Attorney General started an investigation in October into allegations that police officers helped brothel owner Song Ja Cha keep the girls in line while the brothel operated from 2004 to 2008.
The brothel was shut down in 2008, and after a weeklong trial in District Court of Guam in 2011, Cha was sentenced to life in federal prison for multiple crimes related to prostitution and human trafficking.
Cruz said the police department should have taken action in 2008 — when it heard the allegations. She said it shouldn’t have waited for years to get something done.
Doug Prather, a Yigo resident, also said he felt arrests in the Blue House case were a long time coming.
“They knew as far back as 2008,” he said. “Why’d it take them so long?”
Prather said he hopes the investigation ultimately discovers whether some police officers were inappropriately involved with the brothel, adding he wants appropriate action taken against anyone involved.
He specifically pointed at Manila saying after his testimony in federal court that he abetted prostitution, he “should’ve been in jail.”
Manila was a witness in the federal case against Cha. Manila testified that he had sex with a Blue House employee after paying for a ladies drink. Manila also testified that he once “advised” a Blue House employee that she could not leave the lounge until she had paid her debts to Cha.
Girls from Chuuk were recruited and brought to Guam under the guise of getting a good job. When they arrived, however, their passports were taken and they were forced to work as prostitutes.
During the trial, Blue House employee Freda Eseun testified that three police officers frequented the Blue House brothel and named two other officers: “Tony” and “Mario.” Allegations previously had been made against officers during the investigation in 2008, but no names were given, according to court records.
Manila’s testimony prompted the police department to launch an internal investigation. The investigation found Manila had abetted prostitution, but he wasn’t arrested or fired. Officials said disciplinary action was taken against Manila but because it is a personnel issue the nature of the action wasn’t disclosed. He was allowed to keep his job.
Concerns about the time lapse between the ongoing investigation and the possibly linked arrests was a common thread in residents’ reactions.
Robert Smith, of Yigo, said the investigation took a lot longer than he hoped. Also if Manila already testified that he committed certain acts, Smith didn’t see how the police department could let him stay on as an officer.
At the end of the day, Smith said it was good to finally see justice being served — albeit after a long wait.
Under the rug
Gina De los Santos, also from Yigo, said she felt the police department was sweeping a lot of things “under the rug” so seeing police action was welcome news.
Like Prather, De los Santos said she hopes the investigation finds the police officers who were inappropriately involved with the brothel and ensures appropriate action is taken — and that justice is served for the victims forced to work at the Blue House brothel.
“I feel for them,” she said. “If these police officers were helping keep them in the Blue House then they deserve to go to jail.”
Smith said he has been following the Guam Blog stories on the case.
This weekend’s arrest — if it’s linked to the Blue House case — would be the first time any police officer was arrested since allegations were made in 2008.
The investigation was prompted by a series of stories in the Guam Blog, which highlighted allegations made by Blue House employees that Cha was friendly with police officers.
Police Chief Fred Bordallo, initially said additional investigation into allegations of inappropriate ties between officers and the brothel was not necessary. On Oct. 4, a few days after making that comment and consulting with Adelup officials, he announced that he would reopen an investigation.
He also appointed four police officers to the investigation.
Bordallo also then said he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the investigation.
Bordallo also echoed the words of Gov. Eddie Calvo, who said during a weekly address that he believed the Blue House case may have exposed a “few bad apples” in GPD but that the integrity of the entire department wasn’t in question.
Bordallo has said he felt the department as a whole did a “professional job.”
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- Residents react to arrests: Some say action should’ve been taken earlier
- The Arrest of Officers tied to Blue House Brothel on Guam
- Judge denies officers’ bail change request in Blue House case
- David Manila, Anthony Quenga and Mario Laxamana of Guam Police Department
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