THE Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC) yesterday arrested two suspected human traffickers in an entrapment in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.
It also rescued two girls, age 14 and 15, who were allegedly made to do sexual acts that the suspects shot on a smartphone and livestreamed to clients for a fee of US$400.
One of the suspects also allegedly produced a pornographic video of the minors and sent it to customers abroad.
Police will file complaints against the suspects for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; and RA 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to RA 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The girls are in the custody of the Department of Social 7 to undergo trauma-focused therapy.
Apart from them, police also took custody of an eight-year-old girl and two boys, who will be assessed to determine if they, too, were victims of online sexual exploitation.
Senior Supt. Romeo Perigo, WCPC Visayas Field Unit chief, said that the operation was a joint effort of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking in Persons, WCPC, the Cebu City Police Office, DSWD and the International Justice Mission.
"Its goal is to protect women and children from indecency using internet or social media,” he said.
Col. Sheila Portento of WCPC described as "alarming" the proliferation of online sex exploitation cases in the country.
"We have been receiving referrals from different foreign law enforcement agencies and WCPC conducts validation, investigation and case buildup. Unlike any other exploitation/abuse against children, the involvement of the internet makes the online sexual exploitation a very complex crime," said Portento.
Atty. John Tanagho, International Justice Mission (IJM) Cebu director, said the latest entrapment was their 10th operation, They have rescued 20 victims and arrested 10 suspects.
"Police operations deter crime and protect children from further abuse, and when WCPC is fully staffed it will be an unstoppable force to end online sexual exploitationbin the Philippines,” said Tanagho.