PARANAQUE, PHILIPPINES – In the early morning of 20 August 2019, police arrested a 28-year-old man for offering two boys with ages 14 and 15 to an alleged customer for in-person sexual abuse in exchange for money.
Both teens were rescued by police with money from the exchange in his hand. Before the said operation took place, the two minors were previously offered by the suspect online for sexual exploitation in exchange for money. This prompted further investigation by local authorities.
The case started as a referral from the French Police who apprehended a suspect with possession of child exploitative material. The case was then given to the Philippine National Police, Women and Children’s Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) around July of this year. Immediately, local law enforcers worked round the clock to gather enough evidence to apprehend the suspect. This led to today’s entrapment and rescue operations led by PCOL Sheila T. Portento, Chief of the Anti-Trafficking in Person Division (ATIPD), and elements of the WCPC under the overall supervision of PBGEN William S. Macavinta. The operations were also done in coordination with the Southern Police District (SPD), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and International Justice Mission (IJM).
PNP-WCPC Chief William Macavinta said: “Today’s operation is a testament to our commitment to stop Online Sexual Exploitation of Children [cybersex trafficking]. We at the WCPC will continue to be aggressive in looking for facilitators peddling and exploiting innocent children online. We also call upon the community to join us in advocating awareness on the effects of OSEC. Join us in our fight to stop OSEC!”
Both male survivors are now in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region IVA and are receiving trauma-informed interventions necessary for recovery.
Meanwhile, the suspect, Arwin Azur Yamante, an unemployed male has been charged with violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 9208 (as amended by RA 10364), which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of two (2) million to five (5) million pesos (approximately A$57,000 to A$142,000).
He will also be charged with cybersex trafficking offenses in relation to RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012), RA 7610 (Child Abuse Law) and RA 9775 (Anti‐Child Pornography Act of 2009). Both have penalties equivalent to 20 to 40 years imprisonment.
IJM Manila Field Office Director Atty. Reynaldo Bicol stated, “This morning’s rescue of two boys from online sexual exploitation shows that this crime has no gender preference. All our children can become vulnerable prey of sexual abusers who operate online. It is for this reason that our communities should continue to rise up to take part in creating an environment where laws are effectively enforced and our children are protected.”
Recovered during the operations were the suspect’s smart phone, dollar and peso bills, money transfer claim receipts and an ATM card. These will be processed by authorities to verify if these were used in the crime.
PCOL Sheila T. Portento encouraged her officers and also called on the community to take a more active part in helping police. She said:
“The relentless pursuit for justice is a task worth pursuing. Despite the early hours of the morning, our police officers did not hesitate to conduct this operation to catch the 28-year-old suspect red handed.”
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