A 24-YEAR-OLD woman was sentenced to at least 23 years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to multiple offenses involving trafficking, child abuse, cybercrime, and child sexual exploitation materials.
“Six people who sexually exploited Filipino children were convicted in Metro Cebu just in the last week alone. And nearly every week, more suspects are arrested and charged for live-streaming the sexual abuse of children to foreign sex offenders. The reality is abundantly clear and should be amplified by everyone: it does not pay to engage in Osec (online sexual exploitation of children). Whatever easy money criminals receive is outweighed by the high risk of arrest and spending 20 years or the rest of their lives in prison away from their families and communities,” said International Justice Mission (IJM) Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho.
In a decision rendered Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court Branch 70 Judge Christine Muga-Abad also ordered the online sex trafficker to pay P600,000 in fines.
Under a plea bargain, the trafficker entered guilty pleas to offenses under Republic Act (RA) 9208 as amended by RA 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act), RA 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Law), RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act), and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act). Her original charges were also violations of these same laws.
Under plea bargains, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offenses, usually before a court trial starts. This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against the perpetrators who are often family members or neighbors, reducing the potential for re-traumatization.
On September 14, 2017, two female victims -- one a minor and the other adult -- were rescued in Lapu-Lapu City by operatives from the Philippine National Police-Women and Children’s Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit (PNP-WCPC-VFU) and the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (through its Special Weapons and Tactics unit; Women and Children Protection Desk; and Police Station 3). The minor victim is related to the trafficker.
On July 20, 2018, the trafficker was arrested by police officers from the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office Station 3 by virtue of an arrest warrant.
Also supporting the September 2017 rescue operation were the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Central Visayas, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat)-Central Visayas, and IJM.
This coming March 16 and 17, the Iacat and IJM will hold a conference in Manila called Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children. This conference aims to strengthen the global community’s response to Osec, the most urgent form of child sexual exploitation. It will assemble key stakeholders from around the world to learn about the Osec, and the Philippine government’s response to the crime.
The conference also presents participants the opportunity to network with others from across a wide range of sectors (government, law enforcement, NGOs, corporations, etc.) who are also engaged in fighting Osec.
So far in IJM-supported cases, more than 80 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for Osec since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of more than 200 Osec perpetrators and the rescue of almost 600 victims and children-at-risk across the country.
One may report a suspected case of Osec by texting ENDOSEC (space) (incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or directly connect with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao. (PR)