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Police nab online traffickers in Biliran, rescue 6 victims

arrest, Cebu, cybersex trafficking, rescue, the Philippines

Written by IJM
Posted on 07 August 2019 under Recent posts, Sex trafficking.

Law enforcers scored another win against cybersex trafficking with yesterday's arrest of two child sex traffickers in Naval, Biliran, in the Philippines.

At 11 a.m., operatives from the Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) and the Biliran Provincial Police Office (BPPO) stormed a hotel room where a live-in couple brought two 14-year-old boys, whom the female suspect offered to sexually abuse online in exchange for money.

Both minors were rescued, while a 15-year-old girl was removed from the room along with the couple’s two young children – a 2-month-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. Considered at risk, the 15-year-old girl and the couple’s children will undergo assessment to determine if they, too, were victimised.

Four more victims – three boys aged 17 and a woman aged 20 – were rescued at a separate location. These victims were identified during police’s investigation of the female suspect’s online activities.

All victims are now receiving aftercare services from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Monique* (not her real name), 18, and her live-in partner, 28, will be charged with violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act (RA) 9208 as amended by RA 10364. While only Monique was found to have offered the online sexual abuse of minors for a fee, her live-in partner was the one who brought the victims to the undisclosed hotel.

The WCPC-VFU received information about Monique’s suspicious online activities in June this year. (The WCPC is a specialised and dedicated anti-trafficking unit within the Philippine National Police.) Their investigation revealed that Monique had been offering online sexual abuse of minors in exchange for money from foreigners.

After a thorough investigation, the WCPC-VFU planned and carried out an entrapment operation, in coordination with the BPPO, Naval Municipal Police Station, Biliran Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Eastern Visayas and IJM.

“[Cybersex trafficking] perpetrators think they can evade the law. But they are completely mistaken,” said WCPC-VFU Chief Romeo Perigo. “They will be caught and suffer the consequence of their actions – a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and fines amounting to millions."

He said, "We will not tolerate anyone resorting to this illegal activity for quick money. I urge the public to be vigilant and report [cybersex trafficking] incidents immediately to law enforcers to protect children from the trauma this crime brings.”

IJM Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho said:

“IJM praises the coordinated efforts of the PNP- Women and Children’s Protection Center, IACAT, DSWD and Biliran police to rescue and protect precious children from online sexual abuse and exploitation. When these government agencies work together to end OSEC, traffickers don’t stand a chance, and one day OSEC will only be read about in history books, not breaking news.”

Rescued victims of cybersex trafficking need many services, including therapy and rehabilitation. They would only be returned to the community after a comprehensive family home and risk assessment is conducted to confirm that the home is a safe place for the children and that they will no longer be sexually abused or exploited by their parents, relatives or neighbours.

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