Pair arrested for cybersex-A A +A
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
CEBU CITY -- A man and his wife were arrested Wednesday following a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raid that caught them presenting three of their own children and a niece naked in front of a computer-mounted camera.
"Talagang mandidiri ka (You will truly feel nauseated)," said NBI-Central Visayas Executive Officer Lauro Reyes of the raid that was carried out with the assistance of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency under the Department of Homeland Security.
"They involved their children in the pornography they were conducting," said Special Investigator Arnel Pura, who took part in the raid held around 9 a.m. in Cordova town.
The pregnant woman, interviewed at the NBI stockade, admitted being engaged in online pornography but denied involving her children in any of her transactions.
"They were in my room just to change. They had just showered," she said in Bisaya, adding that she and her husband were good people who just found themselves without work, forcing her to engage in online pornography.
"We even send all of them to school," she said.
Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, who joined the raid, said the Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) was informed about the operation last year.
As chair of the Provincial Board's committee on women, family and children and as part of the PWC, she wrote a letter to the town mayor. She said they needed decoys to verify.
A source sent them a 10-minute videotape showing the mother doing lewd acts with her three-year-old daughter. Magpale said she was not able to finish watching the entire tape because she could not bear to watch the children's ordeal.
NBI operatives, led by Agent Jed Hife, raided the couple's house Wednesday morning, armed with a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu, through Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes.
Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of the couple in compliance with Republic Act 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and to protect the identities of their children.
Judge Paredes issued the warrant after the NBI presented visual evidence of the "services" the couple -- using their five children between three and 15 years old and their 13-year-old niece -- performed in various occasions for clients based in the United States.
"The spouses were arrested while they were caught in the act of exploiting their minor children by making them engage in explicit sexual activities and obscene acts before the webcam of their home computer and transmitting the captured images of the children to their clients abroad for a fee via the Internet," said NBI-Central Visayas Director Edward Villarta in his post-operation report to the central office on Wednesday.
Incestuous acts were involved, said Agent Bernard dela Cruz, countering the woman's claim that she had not involved her children in any crime.
Dela Cruz, like Pura, was part of the raiding team.
The children, two boys and three girls plus the niece, are now with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Criminal complaints for human trafficking will be lodged before the Office of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor "as soon as possible," Villarta said, adding the necessary evidences are still being "collated and prepared."
The raid followed information coming from overseas and involved a process that none in the NBI would disclose.
One agent said, however, that while the operatives were still on standby near the spouses' home, they were being fed updates of what was going on inside the house.
"We learned that the woman was getting frustrated because the children were not yet able to secure clients. She was harming them," the agent said.
The agents forcibly entered the house as soon as one client began transacting, leaving them still able to witness the three of the five children and the 13-year-old niece in a state of undress.
The PWC technical working group did not sleep much on Tuesday night because they were already at the area at 10 p.m. and the "live show" started at 9 a.m. the next day.
Magpale requested the NBI head office, through former regional director Medardo de Lemos, to send a forensic expert who can check and verify the contents of the central processing unit (CPU) of the couple's computers.
She said the PWC and NBI were also lucky that an immigration and customs enforcement expert helped them check the CPU and other gadgets.
She said there are other houses in that town that operate as cybersex dens. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 02, 2011.