TWO-YEAR-OLD GIRL RES­CUED

Po­lice look­ing for mother who sold daugh­ter, neigh­bor to cy­ber­pornog­ra­phy

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Ador Vin­cent S. Mayol SE­NIOR RE­PORTER

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.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO/IJM

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.

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