THIS week, three perpetrators were convicted after pleading guilty to trafficking minors for online sexual exploitation.
From three separate police entrapment operations, one in 2017 and two earlier this year, came the arrest of three women, all who were live streaming the sexual abuse of children to customers online.
In 2017, a 15-year-old girl was rescued in Lapu-Lapu City. The perpetrator, a child in conflict with the law (CICL), was 17 at the time of arrest.
This year, another 17-year-old CICL was arrested in Lapu-Lapu City. The 13-year-old victim was rescued.
In August, two victims, age four and 15, were rescued in Minglanilla. The perpetrator was the mother of the four-year-old.
The three accused pleaded guilty earlier this month to qualified trafficking and child pornography charges.
The sentences of the two minors were suspended. They were placed under the disposition program, pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.
On Dec. 13, as part of a plea bargain, Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas sentenced the mother from Minglanilla to 15 years in prison with a fine of P500,000, moral damages of P500,000 and P100,000 for exemplary damages for attempted trafficking along with an additional two months and a fine of P50,000 for possession of child pornography.
“This is a victory, not only for our children in Cordova, but for the children around the world, especially to victims of online sexual exploitation. The conviction of the offenders hopefully will encourage more victims to come out and tell their horrendous stories. I pray that this is just the start; that more perpetrators will be caught and prosecuted, and put to jail to pay for such an inhuman and unconscientious act,” said Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho.
“These convictions show that the days of impunity are over for criminals that sexually abuse children online. Not only is there justice for these young children, but through plea bargaining, the cases move quicker through the justice system and the victims are spared from having to testify in court,” she added.
“These three convictions of online traffickers through plea bargaining is especially important because it protects the child victims from potential re-traumatization by having to testify in court about their abuse. A sentence of 15 years is still quite long and sufficient to punish the accused while providing justice and closure for the victims. When prosecutors use plea bargaining to secure justice, it significantly shortens trial times,” said International Justice Mission Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho.
So far in IJM-supported cases, there have been 49 convictions of persons who trafficked children into online sexual exploitation in the Philippines. (PR)