Online sex trafficker sentenced to 31 years in Cebu City

A 34-YEAR-OLD man was sentenced to serve at least 31 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted trafficking of two boys, ages 9 and 14, and acts of lasciviousness against them.

Under plea bargain agreements, Joey Michael Donozo confessed to the crime of attempted trafficking under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 9208 as amended by Republic Act 10364) and 16 acts of lasciviousness under the Revised Penal Code.

The investigation revealed that Donozo sexually abused boys to produce child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), which he distributed to foreign sex offenders, and also sold young boys to foreigners traveling to Cebu.

On March 10, 2020, Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 22 Judge Dax Gonzaga Xenox sentenced Donozo to serve 15 years in prison for the crime of attempted trafficking and a total of 16 years for acts of lasciviousness.

Xenox also ordered Donozo to pay P600,000 to each of his six victims, or a total of P3.6 million in damages.

“Children are safer in Cebu because of the court’s conviction of Joey Donozo. The young boys whom he trafficked and sexually abused to create child sexual abuse materials are safe from his predatory acts. In fact, restraining Donozo has protected all other vulnerable children whom he would have abused for years to come were it not for his arrest and conviction. IJM has seen over and over again that when violent offenders are held accountable, the abuse of children dramatically decreases as impunity is replaced with accountability,” said International Justice Mission (IJM) Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho.

“To those who are perpetrating this crime against our children, you will be caught eventually. You will soon be put behind bars and be held accountable for your crime,” said Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Noel Cellona.

Under plea bargains, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offenses, usually before a court trial starts. This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against the perpetrators who are often family members or neighbors, reducing the potential for re-traumatization.

Donozo was arrested on February 16, 2019, after he offered two underage boys -- aged 9 and 14 at the time -- for commercial sexual exploitation. He also previously transmitted online sexually explicit images involving one of the boys in exchange for money from foreigners.

Members of the Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) conducted the operation in Cebu City. Six boys -- all under 15 years old -- were rescued.

The operation stemmed from a case referral from the Australian Federal Police to the PNP. According to the referral, Donozo was engaged in the sex trafficking of minors by selling young Filipino boys to foreigners for sexually explicit acts. Donozo also produced CSAM by filming minors in sexually explicit acts.

The WCPC-VFU operation was supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Visayas, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking-Central Visayas, the Cebu City Police Office’s Special Weapons and Tactics and Women and Children Protection Desk, and IJM.

So far in IJM-supported cases, more than 80 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of more than 200 Osec perpetrators and the rescue of almost 600 victims and children-at-risk across the country.

One may report a suspected case of Osec by texting ENDOSEC (space) (incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or directly connect with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao. (PR)