THE biggest sources of child pornography worldwide are in Cebu and still operate while in jail, said Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale yesterday.
Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) Warden Romeo Manansala said they inspected the cells of 43-year-old Thomas Michael Ruhland and 36-year-old Eileen Ontong, dubbed as the queen of cyberporn, and caught them with a laptop and cellphones.
Manansala, in a meeting last Aug. 2, received Gov. Hilario Davide III’s handwritten letter warning him about the inmates’ activities.
“Eileen Ontong and Thomas Ruhland are reportedly in CPDRC, naa lagi kuno gihapon cybersex (there is still cybersex),” he told reporters.
Magpale said the governor was tipped by a reliable source in the last week of July about the illegal activities of Ontong and Ruhland inside CPDRC.
Magpale is the co-chair of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC).
Manansala immediately inspected last Tuesday the cells of the two and recovered Ontong’s mobile phone and Ruhland’s laptop and mobile phone.
There were, however, no lewd images in both gadgets, said Manansala. He also did not find any pocket wifi’s to give them access to internet. He said there were text messages, but they were in German.
Still, the laptop and cellphones were submitted to Davide for further examination.
Ruhland said he bought the laptop from a former inmate. But Manansala believes it was smuggled in by somebody working at CPDRC.
Jail consultant Marco Toral thinks some of the older jailguards are involved in bringing in the gadgets for a large fee. Manansala described them as “nahalin na” or those who had already engaged in illegal activities.
Yesterday morning, jailguards and employees reporting to the CPDRC underwent body inspection. Toral confiscated from a lady jailguard two rims of cigarettes, which he was burned on the spot.
“Starting today, all those getting inside, guests or personnel, will be inspected,” said Toral.
Manansala suspects that Ontong’s cyberporn activity is done outside, recorded and stored in a memory card, which is then smuggled in. Ontong then contacts her foreign clients and sells the images in the card.
Dubbed as “Queen of Cyberpornography,” Ontong is charged with child pornography, child abuse and violation of human trafficking law.
Magpale, in an interview yesterday, said she received reports that Ruhland still contacts his foreigner customers through a website he still maintains while in jail.
She said Ruhland transmits lewd photos of women models to his foreigner customer in Europe, Japan and the United States.
“He sells it at $17 per picture or higher depending how lewd the act is,” said Magpale.
Provincial Women Commission (PWC) investigator Jed Sumignan said Ruhland is one of the top child traffickers worldwide and has been on the wanted list in many countries.
The police arrested him in Talisay City in 2011 and charged with human trafficking, rape and child abuse.
In 2014, Bloomberg.com quoted US Homeland Security as saying that an American Marine paid Ontong $40,000 over the years for sex images and live sex shows via the internet.
But it could be higher as authorities estimate that Ontong netted about US$200,000 over the years, with snapshots of naked children retailed for US$50, nudity in front of the webcam cost US$100, and a live sex show among children ran as high as US$500.
Police have also identified at least 20 people in the US, UK and Australia, who they say purchased images or live shows from Ontong.
In Cordova, Vice Mayor Adelino Sitoy will ask the money remittance center to explain why it was not able to give a report when the 22-year-old mother in Barangay Buagsong had 70 remittances from foreigners in exchange for cyber-pornography.
Sitoy reminded the money remittance establishments about the ordinance that requires them to submit a report and coordinate with the municipal officials whenever there are unusual transactions.
Police operatives from the Women and Children Protection Center 7 arrested Lupe (not her real name) for allegedly using her daughters, ages 5 and 2, for cyber-pornography to receive money from foreigners.
Lupe recorded a video of her daughters while they bathed beside a deep well near their house in Buagsong.
She earlier said that she did it when an American national, Solomon Doz, promised to pay her US$200, or about P9,390, for the video. Doz was a police asset.
In a phone interview, Sitoy, who serves as acting mayor, said the money remittance centers in Cordova reports periodically to the town hall the list of customers and amount transferred to detect unusual money transfers, as required by the ordinance.
If they fail to do this, he said the money remittance center’s business permit will be cancelled.
“Nganung sa Buagsong kadaghan na man diay to nakadawat nya nganu way report sa munisipyo (Why the money remittance was not able to report to us when the suspect in Buagsong had several transactions there?),” he said.
Sitoy said they will resume their information drive against cybercrime when schools will have their parents and teachers association meeting.
They will also tap the parish pastoral council and chapel leaders to help them monitor persons who might be engaging in cyberpornography.
Sun.Star Cebu visited Lupe’s house, but it was locked. Her parents and siblings were not there.
One of Lupe’s relatives, Ann (real name withheld as requested), burst into tears while she shared how industrious and innocent Lupe was.
“Mao toy tabang sa iyang mama, maninda’g hotcake. Kung way tinda maghimo og giveaways para kasal (She was the one who helped her mother in selling hotcakes. If they do not have capital, she just make giveaways for weddings),” Ann said.
Ann, whose husband is the first degree cousin of Lupe’s mother, believed that the young mother could not do such thing.
She said if Lupe has received money 70 times, the suspect’s house would have been renovated.
Half of Lupe’s house was made of light materials, while the other half was concrete.
Another relative, Marian (also not her real name) said they believed that the black American who was Lupe’s previous boyfriend was the one who did this as a revenge.
The foreigner had visited Lupe’s house once last year.
“Katong negroha daghan og babay nya wa sya ganahi ba (His previous black American boyfriend had many girlfriends so Lupe decided to end their relationship),” Marian said.
Ann and Marian said Lupe could not do cyberpornography because the neighbors are too close and they would know.