Veteran fights battle against sex trafficking
By Miles Layton
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
BETHEL – Last week, we talked about Glenn Pangelinan, a warrior turned chef.
Though that story was interesting, particularly as Pangelinan cooks French cuisine at 1775 American Bistro that he owns with his wife Anna Robertson outside Hertford, we only touched base with the “back story.” That's the story behind why heroes become heroes.
For example, Bruce Wayne fell into a well and was attacked by a bunch bats and later, his parents were shot by the Joker. Thus we get Batman.
As to Pangelinan, he's battled with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Bosnian war criminals, but that's not all — not by a longshot for this former Naval Special Warfare Intelligence operative.
Stateside in Washington, D.C., Pangelinan and his Navy SEAL brethren worked restaurant and bar jobs to float the cost of managing their new endeavor to battle human trafficking while gathering “intelligence” on how to manage a restaurant.
Based on what Pangelinan saw in farflung parts of the globe, he founded an anti-sex trafficking organization, Reliance Incorporated, that aims to fight international crime groups involved in modern day sex slavery around the world.
“Though our Reliance team, we hope to bring victims of human trafficking and child soldiering in South Sudan to Perquimans County and northeast North Carolina,” Pangelinan said. “We want to help these young children acquire an education in agribusiness while working on the family farm, attending our local university and working as restaurateurs at 1775 American Bistro. Our goal is to help victims overcome food shortages, while building an entrepreneurial spirit in their home country.”
And now for what radio broadcaster Paul Harvey might say is the rest of the story.
A native of Guam, Pangelinan tells the tale of the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II. Imperial Japanese soldiers were authorized to use native Chamorro women for sexual slavery — “Comfort Women.”
But this was not to be an isolated episode from history, but a crime that continues this day albeit in other places around the globe.
“As a young adult, I only read about these stories from the second world war,” he said. “Consequent to my military service, I witnessed modern day slavery abroad via counter-insurgency operations. Sexual exploitation of women, girls and boys from opposition groups was very common and profitable to terrorist coffers.”
When Pangelinan was serving in Chad, a country in north-central Africa, he witnessed a lot. If the name Darfur sounds familiar, it's because this sub-Saharan Africa region within the neighboring country of Sudan has been on the front lines of a war for many years. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions were placed in refugee camps as the terror spread across this unstable region where humanity has descended into a heart of darkness.
“The worst example (sex slavery/trafficking) that we discovered was along the Chadian border with Darfur,” Pangelinan said. “During one of our movements along the border, we discovered that Chadian military soldiers would cross into Darfur, and be involved in the raping of villagers almost nightly. Chadian soldiers would hide their actions by dressing themselves in Sudanese Liberation Army (an opposition group) attire and commit these sex crimes in the early morning hours.”
A military man by trade, Pangelinan was matter-of-fact when talking about the situation, but there was a strong sense about him that he should do something because this issue goes beyond the horrors of war. Sex trafficking is a worldwide problem that's not limited to out-of-sight and out-of-mind places in remote corners of the uncivilized world.
“Today, I view the fight against sexual traffickers as a responsibility — a responsibility to apply the skills afforded me through the legacy of my service to this country,” Pangelinan said. “We know we can make an impact with reducing the number of bad actors around the world; this is going to be a life-long effort.”