A COUPLE from Cordova town was sentenced to 15 years in jail for sexually exploiting their three minor children through online pornoraphy in exchange for money.

Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Branch 28 Judge Mercedita G. Dadole-Ygnacio found the couple guilty of attempted trafficking in persons for sexually exploiting their three young children by live-streaming a sexually explicit online show to foreign customers in exchange for money.

The judge sentenced the couple to 15 years imprisonment and ordered them to pay a fine of P500,000 and another P100,000 as moral damages to their children.

(Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the names of the couple to protect their children’s identities).

Senior Insp. Sheryl Bautista, deputy chief of the police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in Central Visayas, said the court ruling is a major breakthrough for their agency and other operating units of the police.

“We believe that this is the first successful anti-cyber pornography operations decided by the court in Cebu. Hopefully, this will be an inspiration to other law enforcement agencies to pursue similar cases,” said Bautista.

Last Sept. 4, 2013, the police’s Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force conducted an entrapment and rescue operation with the implementation of a search warrant at the couple’s home in Cordova, Cebu. 

The operation caught one of the parents offering a show involving her children performing sexually explicit activities before a computer-mounted camera.

The operation resulted in the arrest of the parents and the rescue of their three children. 

The couple was charged with qualified trafficking in persons in violation of Sec. 4(a) in relation to Sec. 6(d) of RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, as amended by RA 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

In a statement, the International Justice Mission said the conviction was a breakthrough in their campaign against online sexual exploitation.

The verdict means that online sexual exploitation of children will not be tolerated. 

“These convictions also set a strong precedent for using the legal strategy of plea bargaining. Plea bargaining takes the victims’ needs into account in a way that a full trial could not,” the group said.

Because of the plea bargain, the group explained the victims did not have to be re-traumatized by testifying against their parents in court. 

“While the prosecution believes that it has strong evidence to prove its case, nevertheless it consented to the plea bargain for the best interest of the victims,” IJM said.

Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, who also heads IACAT 7, hailed the plea bargaining deal.

“There is wisdom in plea bargaining. IACAT 7 and partners are not only for the conviction of accused parents but also for the victims’ rehabilitation and giving them light for their future,” said Gubalane.