ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte -- A female trafficker was sentenced to imprisonment of 19 years, four months and four days up to 23 years, 10 months and two days after pleading guilty to offenses related to online sexual exploitation of children (Osec).

A Regional Trial Court branch in Iligan City handed down the decision on November 24, 2021, after the trafficker entered guilty pleas to offenses under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 9208), Anti-Child Abuse Law (RA 7610), and Anti-Child Pornography Act (RA 9775).

Members of the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center-Mindanao Field Unit (WCPC-MFU) arrested the trafficker on June 27, 2019, and brought four children to safety, including her then eight-year-old daughter whom she offered for livestreamed sexual abuse in exchange for money from sex offenders online.

The other children were two girls (aged three and 11 at the time), whom she also offered for online sexual exploitation; and her infant son, who was considered an at-risk child. All children have been reintegrated into the community but are continuing to undergo rehabilitative interventions.

“This is the fruit of the cooperative effort of the brave men and women of the Women and Children Protection Center and our counterparts in the Department of Justice as we perform our sworn duty to hold those who prey on the innocent through the use of the internet accountable for their crimes. We at the WCPC will not stop until all facilitators of online sexual exploitation of children are brought to justice,” said Police Brigadier General Alessandro Abella, chief of the Women and Children Protection Center.

For pleading guilty to the offense of attempted trafficking, the female trafficker was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and pay the fine of P500,000.

For two offenses under the Anti-Child Abuse Law, she was sentenced to imprisonment of two years and two days to four years, eight months and two days.

For her offense under the Anti-Child Pornography Act, she was sentenced to imprisonment of two years, four months and one day to four years and two months.

The court also ordered her to pay each complainant P50,000 in civil liabilities for each of the four cases.

“For the second time in a period of one month, we have obtained another round of convictions with three accused entering a plea of guilty to seven offenses involving online sexual exploitation of children. We commend the great work being done by the handling prosecutor, Jasmin Guiuo-Diaz of Office of the City Prosecutor-Iligan City, for successfully prosecuting the cases in court; and our law enforcement partners for tirelessly working to apprehend these perpetrators. This is another big step in our continuing fight against human trafficking, one that is being fought along with non-government organizations which share the same advocacy such as the International Justice Mission (IJM),” said Regional Prosecutor Merlynn Uy, head of the Department of Justice Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force (DOJ-RATTF) in Northern Mindanao.

On November 18, 2021, the same court also sentenced one male trafficker and his female accomplice for offenses related to online sexual exploitation of children.

“I am elated over this third conviction in Iligan City in just a week. This is yet another victory in our fight against the online sexual exploitation of children. We at the Women and Children Protection Center-Mindanao Field Unit are relentless in protecting children and holding perpetrators accountable,” said Police Colonel Christine S. Tan, chief of WCPC-MFU.

For her part, lawyer Lucille Dejito, director of IJM Cebu Program Office, said: “This conviction is a testament to how the pillars of the justice system – law enforcement, prosecution and aftercare are working together to end the cycle of abuse, protect more vulnerable children and support the healing and restoration of survivors. IJM commends the close collaboration of PNP-WCPC, DOJ Task Force 10, DSWD 10 and Iligan City Government in making this community safer for children, one successful rescue and conviction at a time.” (PR)