POLICE locked up a 25-year-old female sex trafficker and brought seven minors to safety on Wednesday, April 22.

Carrying a search warrant, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) and Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) conducted the operation in an undisclosed location in Luzon.

The officers arrested the suspect after finding child sexual exploitation materials in her residence.

Supported by the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and International Justice Mission (IJM), this is the second police operation against online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) carried out amid the Covid-19 lockdowns.

"We continue to be on the lookout for traffickers and abusers who are exploiting children in exchange for money from online child sex offenders," said WCPC chief Police Brigadier General Alessandro Abella.

“We assure the public -- and warn criminals -- that our mandate to safeguard Filipino children from online sexual exploitation remains despite the community quarantines in effect around the country,” he added.

The seven minors -- six males and one female, ages 3 to 14 -- were rescued from the scene and are now undergoing proper trauma counseling. Four of them are the suspect’s own children.

On April 6, in a different case, WCPC-Visayas Field Unit members also arrested an online sex trafficker in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. She was issued an arrest warrant for producing and distributing child sexual exploitation materials and livestreaming the sexual abuse of her underage girl cousin for a paying foreign online sex offender.

The victim, who was abused from the age 11 to 13, was rescued last year.

“We recognize lockdowns as an important step to contain the coronavirus, but we also acknowledge that one unintended consequence of this is that vulnerable children are being trapped with abusers and traffickers in their homes,” said IJM Philippines Director Samson Inocencio Jr. “IJM continues to work closely with our law enforcement partners to bring Osec perpetrators to prisons.”

One may report a suspected case of Osec by texting ENDOSEC (space) (incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or by calling the IACAT 1343 Action line; or directly connecting with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao. (PR)