CORDOVA, Cebu -- A 23-year-old online trafficker was sentenced to 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to her crimes Wednesday, May 29.
The online trafficker (name withheld to protect the children’s identities) confessed to the crime of Attempted Trafficking in Persons and Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime.
She entered her guilty pleas before Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 11 around 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 29. Branch 11 is the designated Cybercrime Court for Central Visayas.
The trafficker was arrested on June 23, 2018 in Cordova during a police operation led by members of the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) Central Visayas of the Philippine National Police.
She was caught offering to sexually abuse minors and stream live those sexually explicit acts online in exchange for money from a foreign online predator.
Authorities rescued three girls, who were aged 12, 12, and 15 years at the time. A four-year-old girl and the online trafficker’s two sons, ages 2 and 5, were also removed because they were considered “at-risk children.”
The operation was a collaborative effort of ACG Central Visayas, the Cebu Provincial Police Office’s Women and Children Protection Desks (WCPD), Special Weapons and Tactics team, Department of Social Welfare and Development Central Visayas, and International Justice Mission (IJM).
Judge Daomilas handed down a 15-year sentence for the crime of Attempted Trafficking in Persons and ordered the trafficker to pay P1.1 million in penalty and damages. He sentenced her to six years in prison for the crime of Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime.
“As the Philippine government continues to enforce the laws against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (Osec) and hold perpetrators accountable in court, the abuse of children in Osec will surely decrease as traffickers are deterred and realize the high penalty for their crimes -- as such, today’s conviction will protect more Filipino children from this violent abuse,” said lawyer John Tanagho, IJM-Cebu Field Office director.
So far in IJM-supported cases, 63 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for perpetrating Osec, a violent and global form of human trafficking.
IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in the arrest of 213 Osec perpetrators and the rescue of 503 victims and children at-risk across the country. Many foreign online offenders who pay for and direct the live-streamed abuse in Osec have also been arrested and convicted in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and Europe.
Occurring in different communities all over the Philippines, Osec is a crime that violates the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act (RA) 9208 (as amended by RA 10364), which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million.
Typical Osec offenses also violate RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009). Both have penalties equivalent to 20 to 40 years imprisonment.
IJM encouraged the public to report suspected Osec crimes to its local WCPD, the ACG Central Visayas (032-505-4167) or the Women and Children Protection Center Visayas Field Unit (032-410-8483). (PR)