Online trafficker from Cordova gets 26 years in prison

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A 25-YEAR-OLD online trafficker pleaded guilty Wednesday, March 20, to sexually exploiting her own daughters in exchange for money from online predators.

As part of a plea bargain, the online trafficker (name withheld due to her relationship with the victims) pleaded guilty to one charge of attempted trafficking, four charges of child pornography, two charges of child abuse, and two charges of voyeurism.

She was sentenced to a total of 26 years, 4 months and 2 days in prison, and was ordered to pay P1.5 million in fines and damages.

After being made aware of the consequences of pleading guilty, the accused voluntarily entered her guilty pleas before Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 11 around 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 20.

Branch 11 is the designated Cybercrime Court for Central Visayas.

She was represented by legal counsel.

“Engaging in Osec (online sexual exploitation of children) is a one-way ticket to jail,” said lawyer John Tanagho, International Justice Mission (IJM)–Cebu Field Office director.

“Today’s conviction reflects excellent investigations by WCPC and prosecutions by DOJ. The evidence in Osec cases is so strong that the accused are often pleading guilty, even to long sentences of 15 years or longer. This leads to excellent results of timely justice for the survivors and protects child victims from having to testify in court to their abuse. People selling the live streaming of child sexual abuse think it’s an easy way to make money; but really it’s just a sure way to get arrested and go to jail,” Tanagho said.

On July 30, 2016, members of the PNP Women and Children Protection Center–Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) arrested the trafficker in an entrapment operation in Cordova, Cebu. She was caught offering to sexually abuse her two daughters, ages 5 and 2 years at the time, and stream live the exploitation in exchange for money from an online predator.

Authorities rescued the two children and another five-year-old girl whom the trafficker also previously offered for online sexual abuse.

The police, who came with a search warrant issued by Judge Mercedita Dadole-Ygnacio of Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Branch 28, also recovered money transfer receipts from the trafficker’s transaction with an online sex predator, among other evidence.

Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho hailed Wednesday's conviction.

“In every conviction of a cybersex case with our children as victims, the Municipality always shares in the victory of our victims,” she said. “We feel that this victory is not about penalizing or punishing the perpetrators, who usually are close relatives of the victims, even the parents themselves. But this is more about finding justice and rebuilding the lives and future of our children.”

WCPC-VFU Chief Romeo Perigo thanked all the partners involved in the July 30, 2016 operation and the prosecution of the trafficker.

“The conviction of the suspect was a product of hard work of our investigators, prosecution, IJM assisting lawyers, operatives of WCPC-VFU, social workers of DSWD, and Pink Room employees. These government

workers, government agencies and NGO (nongovernment organization) had extended their support to our campaign to end Osec in our area of responsibility,” he said.

So far in IJM-supported cases, 58 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for perpetrating Osec since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in the arrest of 194 Osec perpetrators and the rescue of 456 victims and children at-risk across the country. (PR)