ON JULY 20, 2020, a woman who produced and distributed child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM) online and offered children for in-person sexual exploitation was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In a decision handed by Presiding Judge Maria Angelica Paras-Quiambao of the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 in Angeles City through videoconferencing, the accused (identity hidden to protect the victims, one of whom is her own niece) was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violations of the Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
The accused was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and was ordered to pay P2.15 million in fines and damages.
Upon hearing about the conviction, the 10-year-old girl survivor wrote, "May kunting saya at lungkot nong nalaman ko po na nakukulong na si tita. Ang natutunan ko po dito sa center ay walang pwedeng humawak sa katawan ko. At masaya din po ako dahil natutunan din po ng tita ko ang ginawa niya sa akin (There is some happiness and sadness when I learned that my aunt was imprisoned. What I'm learning here in the center is that no one can touch my body. And I am also happy that my aunt is learning from what she has done to me.)"
She was only six years old when rescued, eight years old when she bravely testified against the accused inside the judge's chambers.
IJM Manila Special Counsel for Legal Intervention, Atty. Kathleen Piccio, said, "Once again, justice and truth have prevailed in the war against Osec. Indeed, an effective criminal justice system will always give rise to perpetrator accountability, create deterrence, and protect not only the children rescued, like that brave little girl who survived and fought hard for justice in this case, but also countless others who will never be abused."
This case of online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) began as a referral received from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation by the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center-Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (PNP-WCPC-ATIPD). Investigation led to the accused's arrest in August 16, 2016 where three children (aged 4 to 6 at the time) were rescued.
The accused had been instructing the children to undress and show private parts before a camera. The accused offered these CSEM for paying customers online. She also offered the children for in-person exploitation.
"These convictions play a significant role in the restoration and healing of the survivors. We are grateful for our partners in prosecution for their ongoing work despite the difficulties during this
unprecedented season," said lawyer Reynaldo Bicol, field office director of IJM Manila.
All the survivors are safe under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and have been receiving trauma-informed interventions.
This is the second Osec conviction that IJM supported during the Covid-19 lockdown. (PR)