WILL love save American national David Ray Carpenter?

“I love her. We’re going to get married,” Carpenter, 68, said in a press conference yesterday.

He was arrested last Friday for allegedly living with 17-year-old Pixie (real name withheld) in Barangay Odlot, Bogo City.

“She wanted to stay there (in my house). She’s a good girl. You don’t find a girl like that every day. I’m old. I need somebody to take care of me and she was really good at that. She made sure I take my medicines. She massaged my legs when they cramped. I have a lot of problems with my legs,” said Carpenter.

He also shared that he plans to marry Pixie in North Carolina in the United States next month.

But lawyer Noemi Abarientos, the head of the Children's Legal Bureau (CLB), said that marriage is not a defense and will not clear Carpenter of his legal liability for violating Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse.

Section 10 states that it is illegal for any person to be in the company of a minor or someone at least 10 years his or her junior in a public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint, discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach or other tourist resort.

In bed

Bogo City Police Station Chief Richard Oliver said that during the joint operation with the Provincial Women's Commission (PWC) and the CLB, authorized by Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Marigomen, police operatives entered Carpenter's house and saw the foreigner lying in bed with Pixie.

The girl's mother was sitting beside them.

The mother and Pixie's father, both 47, were also arrested for allegedly allowing their daughter to stay in a relationship with Carpenter, a retired United States serviceman.

Abarientos said that turning over a minor to an adult in exchange for something constitutes human trafficking, which is a violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Traffickingn in Person's Act of 2003.

Republic Act 6955 also bans mail-order-brides, which is to match a Filipino woman to any foreign national for money or other consideration.

The parents denied accepting money from Carpenter in exchange for their daughter.

But the mother said that Carpenter pays her to do household chores.

Carpenter and Pixie's parents were presented in a press conference yesterday at the Office of Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale.

Carpenter also defended Pixie's parents, saying they did nothing wrong.

The mother also said she can show passports and other documents proving she and Pixie are processing their visas to travel to the US where Carpenter will marry Pixie.

Carpenter and Pixie have been living together since April 2014.

Back to school

Magpale, also PWC chair, said they will send Pixie back to school. Odlot Barangay Captain Emily Juanillo will also shoulder Pixie's 19-year-old sister's education.

Magpale said that following the super typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the PWC started monitoring possible trafficking activities in the north, which was hit hard by the typhoon.

“There are aides that reach the (Bogo) city just like the Emergency Shelter Assistance. But we can really say that what foreigners offer are more attractive,” she said.

Magpale said they tried giving livelihood assistance in Cordova for victims of cyber pornography but dollars from foreigners are more enticing.

She said that PWC will focus on values formation to stop Cebuano minors from cavorting with foreigners.

Juanillo said that Odlot has a population of 3,320, but because of the Our Lady of Good Remedy pilgrim site, devotees and tourists frequent the area.

Juanilla said that Carpenter's house is across Odlot Elementary School and the pilgrimage center is beside the school.

Pixie's mother used to be the president of the school’s parents-teachers community association and participated in the anti-trafficking seminar of the CLB last January.

Juanillo said that last March, CLB attended the council's regular session. It was there that the council was informed of Carpenter and Pixie's living arrangements.

The information prompted a covert surveillance.

Carpenter is a divorcé and a father of two children. He has been living in Odlot for a few years.

Juanillo said that the barangay has been briefed about the possibility of foreigners enticing minors with money.