Woman from Lapu-Lapu gets 17 years for human trafficking

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A 22-YEAR-OLD woman was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to four cases, involving the trafficking of children for online sexual exploitation.

In August 2017, the trafficker was caught offering to sexually exploit a minor via live streaming to foreign sex offenders in exchange for money.

The Lapu-Lapu Prosecutor's Office charged the trafficker with cases under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 10364), the Cybercrime Prevention Act (Republic Act 10175), the Anti-Child Pornography Act (Republic Act 9775), and Anti-Child Abuse Act (Republic Act 7610).

The trafficker pleaded guilty to several other criminal offenses under these laws.

She entered her guilty plea before Judge Christine Muga-Abad of Regional Trial Court Branch 70 Wednesday morning, February 5, 2020.

Aside from serving a 17-year sentence, the trafficker was also ordered to pay P1 million in fines.

“The accused is left nothing to do but yield and admit her wrongdoing in the fact of evidence, which is a testament of a strong cooperation between the Department of Justice, International Justice Mission, and the Philippine National Police. It will show the whole world that this country is serious in its efforts of protecting children,” said Prosecutor Antonio Aseniero.

In August 2017, the Philippine National Police Women and Children's Protection Center Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) acted on a confidential tip that a Filipino woman was sexually exploiting a child online for foreign sex offenders in exchange for money.

The subsequent entrapment operation resulted in the rescue of a 14-year-old girl in Sitio Salvage, Barangay Looc, Lapu-Lapu City.

At the crime scene, police seized the smartphone that was used by the suspect to stream live the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The successful operation was a collaborative effort of the WCPC-VFU, the Lapu-Lapu City Women and Children’s Protection Desk, Social Welfare and Development, Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Visayas, and International Justice Mission (IJM).

"Holding criminals accountable for trafficking children into online sexual exploitation acknowledges the harm that they caused, honors the human dignity of survivors, and protects the community from continued trafficking," said lawyer John Tanagho, IJM Cebu Field Office director.

"Every aspect of the justice system worked to achieve this result -- the police investigation and operation, the prosecution charges and conviction, a plea agreement protecting the survivors from re-traumatizing testimony in court, and the aftercare providers who helped the survivors in their journey to healing. Cases like this are why the Philippines is an emerging global leader in combating the trafficking of children for online sexual exploitation," he added.

The rescued victim in this case is now a thriving survivor.

During her time at the shelter, she received psychosocial interventions and started studying

After many years of separation, she was even able to reunite and meet with her family. She plans to continue her studies and pursue her dream of one day graduating from college.

So far in IJM-supported cases, 79 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for online sexual exploitation of children (Osec) since 2011.

The IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations leading to the arrest of 242 Osec perpetrators and the rescue of 595 victims and children at-risk across the country.

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 pesos.

Typical Osec offenses also violate RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012), RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009) and RA 7610 (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)