Editorial: Poverty’s no excuse-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
GREED, not poverty, drives a hot backyard industry in Cordova: cyberporn.
It is greed for dollars that drives couples like Melanie and husband (pseudonym used in Rebelander S. Basilan’s Sept. 7 report in Sun.Star Cebu) to perform sex in front of a webcam for pay-per-view online customers.
It is greed that inspired the entrepreneurial Melanie to buy a computer and move from Internet cafés to her home to hold her cybersex chats.
Business even became better so Melanie bought more computers and recruited her nieces and other girls to perform lewd acts before paying Peeping Toms.
It was greed that had mothers lining up outside Melanie’s home in Barangay Ibabao, Cordova so that their daughters could have their turn before the webcam.
And it is greed that silences neighbors, local government officials and law enforcers who accept the bribes of cybersex home operators to pretend nothing illegal is happening in some Cordova homes.
Addiction to illegal drugs and gambling.
This was the explanation given by Barangay Captain Chito Bentazal to Sun.Star Cebu reporters covering the investigation on the latest cybersex den exposed in Ibabao, Cordova.
Aside from the Ibabao couple arrested last Sept. 4, authorities also rescued 13 Cordova minors victimized by cybersex operations last Sept. 6.
Last May 26, another Ibabao couple was arrested for running a cybersex den. Three minors, including the couple’s daughter, were rescued.
In June 2011, another Ibabao couple was also arrested for the same illegal activity.
What is Bentazal and other officials doing to eradicate criminality in the barangay?
According to a Sept. 6 report by Sun.Star Cebu’s Flornisa M. Gitgano, Jill Tatoy-Rabor and Basilan, Bentazal said the jobless in Ibabao have livelihood opportunities that don’t involve peddling sex online and exploiting minors.
Yet he was also quoted as saying that fishing, trisikad-driving, canning and stone-processing cannot compete with the windfall from cybersex patrons.
Has he done everything to curb vices like gambling and drug dependency that, he says, fuels cybersex in his barangay?
Barangay officials and local councils for the protection of children are crucial for weeding out cybersex. Yet, in raids to arrest cybersex operators and rescue minors, local officials are often caught by surprise, as in the Sept. 6 operation conducted by
the Inter-agency Council against Trafficking.
Why are local officials left out in the cold?
Wanted: nosey neighbors
According to the same Sun.Star Cebu report, Cordova Mayor Arleigh Sitoy learned from “two American agents” that cybersex existed in other places in Cebu Province but it was “more prevalent” in Cordova.
Why is it more prevalent Cordova? Seeking an answer to this quandary should challenge not just Sitoy and Cordova officials but every citizen.
Sitoy said that meetings with youths, parents and teachers have not stopped cybersex.
He is now considering passing an ordinance that will penalize money transfer companies channeling money in cybersex operations.
Both Sitoy and Bentazal should heed the advice of Maria Theresa Macatangay of the Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
She said cybersex operators are not members of a syndicate. They operate alone and in private residences, making detection more difficult.
Most of the arrests of cybersex operators stemmed from reports of concerned citizens.
Macatangay encouraged the public to report any illegal activity to authorities.
Since cybersex operators enjoy protection from officials they bribe, neighbors should also make it their business to blow the whistle on official corruption.
Vice, not poverty, is at the root of many of the country’s problems.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 09, 2013.