SIX minors, including a two-year-old boy, and a female adult were rescued from a suspected cybersex den at Barangay 26 in Bacolod City, on Thursday, July 13.
Senior Inspector Lawrence Ibo, team leader of Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit based in Cebu City, told SunStar Bacolod last night the victims were sexually exploited online by one of the minors’ mother, who was also arrested during the entrapment operation.
Ibo said the 35-year-old suspect, who exploited her two children aged two and five years old, was placed under surveillance for a week after they received reports about her illegal activities.
During the operation, the suspect was caught offering her five-year-old daughter to a customer to perform live streamed sexual acts in exchange for money.
Ibo added that the suspect also exploited her two nieces, aged 17 and 22 years old.
Other rescued female victims, who were neighbors of the suspect, were aged five, 14, and 16.
Ibo said the suspect had been operating the business for three years now, which she “inherited” from her elder sister.
“We’re still conducting further investigation” to locate other victims, he said.
Ibo said the suspect’s customers were mostly foreigners, who pay her through money remittance service.
He added that the payment for the live show of nude children ranges from P1,000 to P25,000.
The suspect also takes pictures of her neighbors’ children taking a bath naked, and sends it to her customers, Ibo said.
All six minors are now in the custody of the City Department of Social Services and Development while the suspect is detained at Police Station 4.
Charges for violation of cybercrime law, child abuse, and anti-trafficking in person are being readied against the suspect.
This is the fourth cybercrime case uncovered by the authorities in Bacolod in the span of two months.
On May 5, four female minors were rescued from cybersex operations while three women were arrested in two barangays.
In the first operation, the mother of the three victims was caught offering one of her daughters for a live sex show to an online predator from Australia while the second operation led to the rescue of a girl whose mother exposed her to a customer in the United States.
A week after that, an American sexagenarian was arrested after he allegedly uploaded sex videos of him and his multiple partners on the internet.
READ: ‘Cybersex’ alert up in Bacolod after rescue of 4 minors
Superintendent Maria Shiela Portento, head of Women and Children Protection Center-Operation Management Division based in Camp Crame, in an interview with SunStar Bacolod said cases of online sexual exploitation of children in the country are alarming.
She said there are three factors why these cases are prevalent in the Philippines.
“First, the foreigner can easily engage because we can speak good English. Second, the facilitators are family members so there’s trust, and lastly, internet is readily accessible,” Portento explained.
The suspects think it is harmless to lure minors as pedophiles can’t touch them physically, but they don’t realize its long-term effects on the children, she added.
Moreover, Portento said there are certain localities in the country where these cases are evident.
“We have pinpointed areas,” which include Bacolod City, she said.
Portento said they get “referral” from foreign authorities like the Federal Bureau of Investigation on these cases as they are “very vigilant.”
“They refer the case, we do the case build-up,” she added.
Portento said they are strengthening the information campaign and awareness about these cases, “but more effort is still needed.”