TWO-YEAR-OLD GIRL RESCUED
Police looking for mother who sold daughter, neighbor to cyberpornography
Ata tender age of two, Sophie (not her real name) was supposed to have am other who washer protector and refuge.
But things did not turn out the way it should have been.
Sophie was allegedly abused sexually by her mother who took lewd livestream videos of the girl for customers abroad.
The toddler and a 21-year-old female neighbor were rescued in a police operation in Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City, on Thursday.
Sophie’s 25-year-old mother eluded arrest.
Senior Supt. Romeo Perigo, chief of the Women and Children’s Protection Center in Central Visayas (WCPC-7), said a confidential informant tipped them off about the young moth- er’s illegal operations.
“Based on our monitoring, she (mother) had been engaged in this kind of activity since the start of this year. It was not easy to catch her because she used her cell phone in taking photos and videos of her victims,” he told CEBU DAILY NEWS over the phone on Friday.
Perigo said they transacted with the suspect who easily gave in to the demand of the undercover agent.
The suspect allegedly asked P6,000 to P15,000 from her foreign patrons for a set of lewd photos and videos.
Perigo, who led the operation last Thursday, said they were thinking that the suspect was communicating with them through online chat from her residence in Barangay Canjulao, Lapu-Lapu City.
But when the operatives went to her house, she was nowhere to be found.
The suspect’s daughter and 21-year-old neighbor Mia (not her real name) were left in the house.
Mia told the police that the suspect produced and sent sexually explicit images of her to foreigners.
Last Thursday’s operation was the sixth where children were rescued from online sexual exploitation.
Complaints for violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 9208) and the Anti-Child Pornography Act (Republic Act 9775 ) in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act (Republic Act 10175 ), among others, would be filed against the suspect at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office.
Since the offender is the parent and the victim is a minor, the offense falls under qualified trafficking — a non-bailable case.
If convicted, the suspect could face life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million.
As part of due process, however, the suspect would be given the chance to submit her counter-affidavit and refute the allegations at the prosecutor’s office
If there were sufficient evidence against her, charges would be elevated to the court. Otherwise, the case would be dismissed.
“We have a record of our conversations with the suspect through chat. We don’t have to catch her in the act of exploiting her children. The mere fact that she agreed to exploit her children was enough evidence against her,” Perigo said.
The two victims were entrusted to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
While the law against human trafficking allows the media to identify the accused, CEBU DAILY NEWS has withheld the name of the suspect to protect the identity of her daughter.
Lawyer John Tanagho, Cebu office field director of the International Justice Mission (IJM) — a non- governmental organization that has been actively fighting all forms of human trafficking — was saddened by yet another case of sexual exploitation involving parent and children.
“Imagine, a mother offering to sexually abuse her 2year-old daughter and even livestream that abuse?” he said in a press statement.
“Online sexual exploitation of children is about individuals with distorted moral values who are willing to mistreat and sexually abuse children to make money, without regard for the God-given dignity and innocence of children,” he added.
Tanagho said poverty should never be used as reason in engaging in online sexual exploitation.
“We can’t blame this all on poverty. Millions of Filipinos work hard to provide for their families through honest and dignified means, even if they live simply,” he said.
Senior Supt. Shiela Portento of the WCPC in Camp Crame said the public’s awareness about online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the Philippines has slowly increased.
“If we look into the situation of OSEC in the country based on the international reports, it is quite alarming. But as we see it on our perspective, we have already achieved remarkable accomplishments. Indeed, we cannot deny the existence or the proliferation of OSEC, but the PNP particularly the WCPC is doing its share to eliminate this type of crime,” she said.
Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane lauded law enforcers and IJM for rescuing the two victims.
“These people continued to fight against these illegal activities in the form of human trafficking,” he told CEBU DAILY NEWS.
“It’s more difficult to fight online sexual exploitation now especially if it involves their own parents, and the illegal activity happening in the four corners of the house. But we’re trying our best to respond to the challenges,” he added.
Since 2011, law enforcers raided home-based cyberporn businesses involving children in Cordova town and in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
In those raids, parents were arrested and charged with qualified human trafficking for exposing their children online to pedophiles for a fee.
Gubalane, head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in Central Visayas, said there would be no letup in their campaign against online exploitation and pornography.
“Definitely, we will continue to go after violators,” he said.
Neighbors of the 25-year-old mother, who allegedly exploited her two-year-old daughter sexually, look at the suspect’s house as police operatives conducted the raid.