‘Online trafficker’ caught; 5 minors rescued

ILIGAN CITY -- Authorities arrested a 30-year-old mother who offered to livestream sexually explicit acts involving her own nine-year-old daughter in exchange for money from online predators and customers abroad.

The suspected trafficker was caught in the act of trafficking her daughter during an anti-trafficking entrapment operation led by the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Women and Children’s Protection Center – Mindanao Field Unit (WCPC-MFU) in Barangay Tubod, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte Province, at noon Wednesday.

Aside from her nine-year-old daughter, authorities also rescued her three sons, ages 2, 3 and 10. Another seven-year-old girl, who was seen in a photo transmitted online by the suspect during surveillance, was also rescued. All five children were brought to an aftercare facility.

The WCPC-MFU had placed the suspect under surveillance for over a month after receiving a report about her illegal online activities last October. After a thorough investigation, police confirmed that she had been trafficking children in exchange for money from online predators abroad who pay to direct and watch online the actual sexual abuse of children.

During the entrapment, police recovered the suspect’s smart phone, believed to be used for Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (Osec). She was detained at the Iligan City Police Station 4.

“Thanks to the diligent work of the WCPC Mindanao Field Unit, 5 child victims of online sexual exploitation as young as 2 and 3 years old are now free from sexual abuse and exploitation,” lawyer John Tanagho, Field Office Director of International Justice Mission (IJM)–Cebu.

“And just as important, the police were able to catch and arrest the suspected trafficker in the act of offering to sexually abuse the children live-stream online for easy money from foreign customers. With every rescue and arrest operation, vulnerable children of the Philippines are protected more and more from this violent and degrading abuse called OSEC as traffickers are held accountable. Every operation sends the message to the community that the lives and dignity of children are worth more than money,” he added.

Police are preparing to file charges against the suspect for violations under Republic Act (RA) 9208, as amended or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, RA 9775 or the AntiChild Pornography Act in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, RA 7610 or the Child Abuse Law, and other related charges.

The Iligan City Police Office, Iligan City Police Station 4, Department of Social Welfare and Development–Region 10, Iligan City Social Welfare and Development Office, and the International Justice Mission also took part in today’s operation.

Rescued victims of Osec need many social services, 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 November 30, 2018, IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in the arrest of 179 suspected Osec perpetrators – 45 of whom have been convicted; and in the rescue of 415 victims across the country. (PR)


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