SECTIONS
Monday, December 17, 2018

Mother, 22, falls in trafficking racket; 3 saved

Site. A woman was caught in this house in Cordova while offering to abuse children and livestream it for a pedophile watching online. (International Justice Mission Foto)

A 22-YEAR-OLD woman landed in jail yesterday after she was caught offering to sexually abuse minors and livestream those sexually explicit acts in exchange for P3,000 from a foreigner.

She offered to do whatever the foreigner wanted and promised to “do it all” with the minor victims.

A team from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) 7 arrested Miriam (real name withheld) and rescued three girls, ages 12, 12, and 15, from online sexual exploitation during an entrapment in Barangay Poblacion, Cordova around 10 a.m.

A four-year-old girl and the suspected online trafficker’s two sons, ages 2 and 5, were also removed by social workers for assessment to determine if they, too, suffered abuse.

Same compound

The operation, led by ACG 7 Chief Leo Dofiles, took place in the large house of Miriam’s live-in partner.

During the entrapment, the suspected trafficker offered to engage in sexually explicit acts involving penetration with two of the young girls rescued. One of the 12-year-old victims was rescued inside the house. The two other victims whom Miriam offered to sexually abuse online were found in neighboring houses in the compound in Barangay Poblacion.

Although Miriam’s sons and the four-year-old girl were not offered during the entrapment, they were inside the same house when the crime was taking place. They were still being assessed to determine if they suffered abuse at the hands of the suspect or were offered to online pedophiles.

The suspect had been under surveillance since May this year.

All six children are now in the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7. The Cebu Provincial Police Office’s WCPD and Special Weapons and Tactics team, DSWD 7, and International Justice Mission (IJM) also supported the operation.

Online exploitation

“This case also refutes the myth that online sexual exploitation is supposedly a ‘harmless crime’ where children are shown ‘naked’. Stripping children naked for online pedophiles is traumatizing enough. But online sexual exploitation (or ‘cyber-pornography’) is so much more; like many OSEC suspects, Miriam allegedly offered to engage in sexually explicit acts with a 12-year-old girl and ‘do it all.’ Let’s END OSEC together sooner than later,” said Atty. John Tanagho, IJM Cebu Field Office director.

Dofiles also disputed the oft-cited excuse to engage in online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC): poverty. “Many poor families make a living by taking decent jobs. Others engage in this crime because they want easy money,” he said.

The anti-OSEC operation was the eighth in Cebu this year. It was also the fifth OSEC entrapment and rescue operation in the Philippines in just two weeks.

Help for children

Miriam will be charged with violations of Republic Act (RA) 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act as amended by RA 10364, and RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The rescued victims will receive psychosocial interventions, including therapy and rehabilitation.

They would only be returned to the community after a comprehensive family home and risk assessment is conducted to confirm that the home is a safe place for the children and that they will no longer be sexually abused or exploited by their parents, relatives or neighbors.

As of May 2018, IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations leading to the arrest of more than 100 OSEC perpetrators and the rescue of more than 300 victims.

Thirty-five accused have already been convicted for trafficking children into online sexual exploitation in the Philippines. (PR)


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