USING her P1,300 phone, a 22-year-old mother recorded video of her daughters, ages 5 and 2, while they bathed near a deep well in Barangay Buagsong, Cordova town, Cebu.
Lupe (real name withheld) later said she did it because an American national, Solomon Doz, promised to pay her US$200 dollars, or about P9,390, for the footage.
She did not know Doz was a police asset.
Police operatives from the Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) 7 arrested Lupe last Saturday morning.
“Nag-selfie ra man ko pirmero. Unya, miingon man siya nga mangayo siya og tabang kay horny kuno kaayo siya, mao tong niingon ko nga, ‘Unsa may matabang nako nimo?’ After ana, miingon siya nga gusto daw siya nga motan-aw sa akong mga anak nga naked ra bitaw siya. Misalig ra pod ko niya (I was just taking a selfie when he approached and told me he needed help because he was horny. I asked him how I could help, and he said he just wanted to gaze at my children while they were naked. I trusted him),” said Lupe.
She also told the police she had engaged in online pornography three times, but the WCPC found out from a money transfer firm in Cordova that the woman had received as many as 70 remittances from foreigners.
Lupe said she was tempted by the offer because she has been raising the children alone since she and her husband separated. She also told police she is now living with a foreigner, but did not elaborate.
“Nakapangutana ko, God ngano man ni (God, why is this happening to me)?” she said, tears welling in her eyes. “Wala ko mag expect nga sa akong ka chat nga iya kong giingon ani. Lord, God, tabangi ko please sa akong sitwasyon karon (I didn’t expect my chat mate to do this. Lord, help me, please).”
But Chief Insp. Rose Santolorin, the WCPC 7 head, said Lupe was spinning a different story to the reporters.
“Cell phone ra iyang gigamit ug ang sakit gyod diha kay iyang mga anak bitaw maoy gigamit para lang makakwarta ba. Duna siya’y ka-chat. Ang iyang mga bata iyang gipavideo sa Skype nga naked in front sa camera (What really hurts is that she is using her own children to make money. She chats with others. She has allowed them to view her children, naked, via Skype),” she said.
Operatives caught Lupe allegedly while she was holding the cell phone inside their house. The girls were rescued and brought to the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7.
“Ang kamingaw sa akong mga anak dili masukod (I miss my children terribly),” said Lupe.
The operation was authorized by a search warrant issued by Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Judge Mercedita Dadole-Ygnacio.
Before the arrest happened at 10 a.m., Santolorin said, they received reports about Lupe’s involvement in online pornography.
The WCPC placed her under surveillance starting last July 21 by making a fake Facebook account, supposedly belonging to a foreigner.
Eight days later, after confirming Lupe’s illicit activity, Santolorin said they applied for a search warrant, which Judge Ygnacio issued last July 30. On the same day, the WCPC hatched the operation.
Lupe admitted that she had chatted online with Doz, whom she said persuaded her to undress last July 26. She received P600 through a money transfer firm. She used it to buy rice.
Two days later, she said, she took a video of her naked daughters taking a bath near a deep well. She sent it to Doz and asked for US$70 or almost P3,300.
Santolorin said they will submit Lupe’s cell phone to a forensic examination, so they can gather more evidence.
Lupe, who dropped out after her first year in high school, said she regretted what she had done. She bought her Android phone last June 26 after a foreigner chat mate gave her money.
“Hilig man god ko’g meet-meet. Daghan man god kog contacts nga friend lang god nako...uyab-uyab lang god nga foreigner (I like meeting people. I have contacts, friends…some foreigners I flirted with),” said Lupe.
After she bought the cell phone, she often went online because of free data from the promos she availed herself of. She added that her neighbors can attest to her good standing in the village.
“Sige ra kog paninda uban sa akong mama (I help my mother sell things),” said Lupe, whose father is a trisikad driver. “Makakaon ra man mi three times a day (We make enough to eat thrice a day).”
Lupe was 17 when she gave birth to her eldest daughter in 2011. The girl is in Kindergarten.
From 2011 until 2013, the authorities have arrested 11 persons, most of them parents or relatives of the victims, for engaging in cyber-porn.
They also rescued more than 20 minors in the villages of Ibabao, Cogon, and San Miguel, all in Cordova.
In 2014, two major operations were conducted that led to the arrests of an Australian national in Buagsong in June and a German in Bangbang in November.
Lupe will face complaints for violating Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) and RA 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act), as amended by RA 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons).
The offenses are non-bailable.
Section 4 of RA 10175 punishes content-related offenses like cybersex and child pornography.
Under RA 9208, a person is prohibited “to recruit, transport, transfer; harbor, provide, or receive a person by any means, including those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.”
The law was amended through RA 10364, which does not give offenders the confidentiality clause they enjoyed while RA 9208 was in effect. The amended version also gives people who rescue trafficking victims immunity from suits.