Strengthened drive vs Osec

DAVAO. The suspect, Merdeka Antido, from Zamboanga City, was arrested by joint personnel of WCPC-MFU, in coordination with DOJ-Iacat-Davao, RATTF, DSWD, Regional Intelligence Division of PNP, Sto. Tomas Municipal Police, and International Justice Mission. (Contributed photo)

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) - Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in Davao Region continues its robust drive against online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) and Internet crimes against children (ICAC).

Lawyer Janet Grace Fabrero, Anti-Trafficking in Person Task Force (RATTF) and IACAT Davao Region chair, said this is to sustain the Philippines’ standing as Tier 1 in monitoring and combating trafficking in persons.

The recent arrest of a person who is engaged in cyberpornography of Filipino children, named Merdeka Antido from Zamboanga City, is another proof that DOJ-IACAT Davao Region is not resting until there are children that need to be rescued and until online children predators cease their reprehensible acts.

Antido, according to DOJ-IACAT - Davao Region press statement, is engaged in cyberpornography of Filipino children since 2015, and was arrested after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States of America gave lead about her illegal action, “selling” Filipino children to foreigners online.

The Women and Children Protection Center-Mindanao Field Unit (WCPC-MFU) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) - Zamboanga City headed by Police Captain Rassel L. Tuliao immediately conducted a surveillance investigation after receiving the lead.

Acting under the guidance of the investigator for Osec and ICAC, Joey A. Gumera, an agent of WCPC-MFU engaged with the suspect through online messaging platform to validate the lead. Gumera was able to establish that the suspect, who was validated that is still engaging in cyberporn of children, is already residing in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte and is in her mid 20s. The WCPC-MFU operatives then travelled immediately from Zamboanga City to Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte to conduct an entrapment operation.

Thus, the WCPC-MFU, in coordination with DOJ-IACAT Davao Region, RATTF Davao Region, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Davao Region, the Regional Intelligence Division of PNP, the Sto. Tomas Municipal Police, and the International Justice Mission, conducted the simultaneous entrapment and rescue operation since the suspect was offering to the undercover agent via an online messaging platform a 15-year-old minor for a live pornographic show in exchange for some money.

Deputy Regional Prosecutor Barbara Mae Flores and Assistant City Prosecutor Peter Paul Tombo who represented the DOJ-IACAT-RATTF Davao Region in the operation hope that arrests of this nature would deter others from engaging in cyberpornography especially those that involves children. That since cyberpornography of children is a transnational crime, there is a strong international cooperation among law enforcement agencies in different countries to combat this reprehensible crime, making the world of perpetrators smaller.

Police Captain Rassel Tuliao states that Osec is a kind of addiction by perverted persons which is difficult to eradicate. Nevertheless, they vowed to continually intensify their fight against Osec acknowledging the challenge to involve the community by policing their own neighborhoods and to report to authorities any suspicious activities.

Antido then was brought to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao del Norte for inquest proceedings where Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis found that she violated three laws – Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, Anti-Cybercrime Law, and Anti-Child Abuse Law. The first case carries the penalty of life imprisonment hence, she cannot post bail for her temporary release. (PR)


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