Battling cybersex

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Sunday, March 16, 2014


CYBERPORN players are no longer confined in their homes. They can now perform anywhere using their laptop, aided by a portable WiFi device for wireless Internet access.

This means they can perform inside hotel rooms or even in schools, said Provincial Board (PB) Member Arleigh Sitoy.

Sitoy said players are no longer limited to the usual suspects—parents who order their children to undress or perform sex in front of the camera.

However, he admitted that they’re fighting an uphill battle. “Lisod ang kumpetensiya, kwarta (It’s difficult to compete against money). It’s not an easy fight and we’re preparing for that,” he said, adding that they’re focusing on following the money trail.

Sitoy has authored an ordinance that focuses on money-transfer companies where payments from cyberporn clients abroad pass through to reach cybersex players here.

“That’s why we make money-transfer managers accountable,” the legislator said.

He said money from illicit activities leaves tell-tale signs like numerous daily transactions that involve only few recipients, which is reflected in money-transfer records.

Sitoy’s proposed ordinance has yet to undergo a second public hearing before it’s returned to the PB for the second reading and approval.

‘It’s like pollution’

There was a time when cyberporn players were concentrated in one barangay in Cordova, where Sitoy used to be mayor. Now they’ve spread to neighboring barangays and other local government units.

Sitoy said the trade has also lured college students and some professional who are in need of quick, easy cash.

Meanwhile, Sitoy said they are fine-tuning the ordinance so that it will not be inconvenient for families of overseas contract workers who are receiving remittances from abroad.

“It’s like pollution (cybersex activity). It knows no boundary or jurisdictional domain,” he said.

Anyone can perform an illicit show anywhere and collect payment anyway to avoid detection, he said.

He said the biggest stumbling block in their fight against cyberporn is the economic aspect of the trade. Some make as much as $500 daily, he said.

When he was still mayor of Cordova, he said he called to his office those suspected of engaging in the illegal trade and warned them to stop, especially if children were involved.

Their reply: “Mayor, panginabuhi ko ni (It’s our livelihood.”

He said he thought of putting “cybersex prone house” labels on the doors of the suspects’ houses even though he knew this was a violation of their human rights.

“Ang ato na lang i-ostracize sila sa (We can ostracize them in the) community,” Sitoy said.

When asked if the Province is winning the fighting against the cybersex trade, Sitoy said: “Pareha sa drugs (Like with illegal drugs), it’s hard to tell.”

However, Cebu has been getting assistance from the US Homeland Security in the fight against cyberporn.

“Anytime manawag ‘ta (we call them), they’re always here,” said Provincial Women’s Commission chairperson and Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale.

In an ongoing case of cybersex/human trafficking in Cordova, she said Homeland Security computer experts will conduct a “computer autopsy” to retrieve incriminating evidences inside a confiscated computer central processing unit.

She said local authorities will prepare for their arrival by applying for the search warrants. So when everything is ready, Magpale said, “Raid dayon pagabot sa Homeland Security (when men from the Homeland Security arrive).” (OCP)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2014.

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