‘Raiding’ a school-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
BECAUSE cybersex is committed in the privacy of the home, it is difficult to trace. I can imagine the long hours authorities spend to build their case before striking against the perpetrators. It must be very taxing to their patience.
When their sleuthing pays off and they score in the drive against this modern day curse, we all should give them a pat in the back.
So why is Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza complaining about the lack of coordination between the team that raided a school in her area and the city’s social welfare office.
Perhaps, raid is too strong a word to describe the operation, conducted by a task force from the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking in a public school in Cordova and in the Babag National High School in Mactan. The task force said it was a “rescue,” a follow-up to a raid that they conducted in neighboring Cordova, home to most of the cybersex operations that authorities have discovered in recent months.
But this is precisely Radaza’s beef. If it wasn’t a raid, why was it done in full public view and by heavily armed men? If it was a rescue, shouldn’t the children whom they summoned have been treated as victims instead of suspects?
Unless the task force is telling us that they suspected that the girls were in school, not to attend their classes but to perform lewd acts before a webcam, where is the urgency in hauling them out of their classrooms? Who were they rescuing the children from, their teachers?
Did the raiding team ever consider the shame the girls would have to bear from being singled out for questioning on their suspected participation in pornography?
I read that eight of the children are now in protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It is safe to assume that although the task force did not catch them in the act, there is evidence that they have been used as “commodities” in the cybersex trade. I trust that the DSWD will take care of them.
Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale has been quoted as saying that they will provide temporary shelter to the children, send them to school and arrange for their counseling. Good.
But I also read that two high schools girls have been mistakenly identified as victims and were released from rescue. And that’s it?
Holy cow, the “rescuers” exposed them to ridicule by picking them up from their classrooms in broad daylight for a little questioning! And because it happened when classes were ongoing, a number of their schoolmates must have witnessed the aborted “rescue” and told their parents, relatives and friends about it. You can imagine the number of wagging tongues and what they’re saying in Lapu-Lapu right now.
Radaza said she fears that the children could be traumatized. Her fears are real. Being falsely suspected of a crime (okay, of being victim to a crime) is disturbing enough. How much more disturbing is it when the crime involves stripping to the flesh and performing indecent acts before an unseen but international audience? Shouldn’t the DSWD be arranging for the counseling of these girls, too?
Again, the fact is not lost to us that the battle against online pornography is a very tough one because it is committed in places where the victims are expected to be – their homes – and with the people that they are supposed to be – their parents.
But we should not tolerate taking shortcuts or not guard against excesses. Otherwise, we could have that situation where those whom we intend to rescue end up being victims twice over.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 08, 2013.