THREE women pleaded guilty to selling the honor of their children, including their own, to pedophiles online. Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court Judge Christine Muga Abad promptly sentenced them to jail terms ranging from 23 to 37 years. Serve them right.
The court also ordered each one of them to pay damages of P600,000, but I doubt if they can afford it. I do not think that they were able to save anything from the payments that they got from their equally depraved customers. These are poor people who made easy money and spent it just as easily, believing that their well cannot run dry.
More than 80 people have been sent to jail for trafficking children via the Internet since 2011, according to the International Justice Mission, a non-government organization that is at the forefront in the campaign against child exploitation. Considering the extent of child abuse in the country, the number is rather underwhelming.
Not the fault of the IJM, I must hasten to add. The blame rests elsewhere such as the failure of the authorities to enlist the support of the community in the campaign against cyber child trafficking and a flawed justice delivery system that enables the accused to interminably delay the proceedings.
So even as we applaud pocket victories such as the conviction of the three mothers, we have to point out that there are still other mothers--and fathers and uncles and aunties and neighbors and others--who continue to subject little children to sexual abuse and livestream it to an audience of paying perverts, using their poverty as an excuse.
We rank prominently among the places with a high incidence of online child trafficking, a Jesuit priest said, citing a recent study, in his homily during one of the novena masses for the Sto. Niño last month. What he said next still rings loudly in my ears: Is it possible that among the hands that waved lovingly at the Child Jesus were the same hands that stripped a child naked, performed acts of sexual perversion against her and showed everything to the world?
And, if I may add, didn’t many of the hands that were similarly raised in prayer belong to those who, having seen the exploitation of children, turned a blind eye or who, having heard the unmistakable noise of child abuse, pretended not to notice? No court may be able to send us to jail for becoming, by our silence, enablers but that does not make us any less guilty of selling our souls.
Cars that are used for hire without the consent of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are considered colorum and will be apprehended. What about the motorcycles that are similarly put in trade without a license?
When you selectively enforce the law against the same group of violators, a serious question of equal protection arises. What is the reasonable basis for classifying errant motorcycles from similarly errant cars?
There must be less than a hundred cars using unlicensed ride-hailing applications in Cebu. In comparison, there are thousands of motorcycles operated under Angkas or Joyride or as plain habal-habal. In other words, for every one colorum car, there are are at least 200 motorcycles that are operating without a permit.
The LTFRB apprehends the colorum cars, fines the operator either P100,000 or P120,000 and impounds the vehicle for a minimum of three months. The colorum motorcycles go scot-free.
It may be argued that the motorcycles-for-hire are on a pilot run and are exempt from any penalty. Shouldn’t we extend a similar privilege to the colorum cars while the ride-hailing company processes its franchise or license? We should not allow Grab to continue to monopolize the car ride-hailing business.