Online trafficker nabbed, 4 victims rescued in Daanbantayan

POLICE'S relentless pursuit to protect children led to the arrest of a 29-year-old woman who was caught offering to sexually abuse her daughter and relatives online in exchange for money from a foreign sex offender.

Members of the police’s Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) carried out the operation in Daanbantayan, Cebu around 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 11.

They arrested the suspected online trafficker after she offered her daughter and two other young girls online for sexual abuse.

The three minors, aged 5 to 12 years old, were rescued along with an adult victim, aged 27. These four victims are all related to the perpetrator.

The perpetrator’s five-year-old son was also removed because he was determined to be a child at risk.

WCPC-VFU conducted Tuesday's operation in coordination with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat)-Central Visayas, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Central Visayas, and Daanbantayan Police Office, with support from International Justice Mission (IJM).

This successful operation was a result of a referral given to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (Picacc).

On June 21, 2019, the Picacc received information from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) regarding an American national who was suspected of sending money to the Philippines in exchange for explicit photographs of minors. Based on this information, the WCPC-VFU conducted investigations that led to the identification of the local facilitator. During the investigations, three female minors were offered for sexual exploitation online in exchange for money.

The Picacc, a model for an enhanced global response against online sexual exploitation of children (Osec), is a cooperation among local and international law enforcement, namely, the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center, the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Human-Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA), in partnership with IJM.

Now that the suspect is restrained, this does not only mean protection and safety of her victims but also those children who would have been abused if she was not restrained at all,” said lawyer Lucille Dejito, head of Prosecution Development at IJM Cebu Field Office.

“The successful rescue of these children is possible because of the PNP and NCIS, the forces of two governments, from both the supply and the demand sides coming together to protect our Filipino children and end the cycle of OSEC. When governments collaborate to enforce the law, criminals will have no way out and impunity will not thrive,” Dejito added.

Occurring in various communities in 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), RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009) and RA 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Law).

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)