BEACH HOUSE ARREST
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday arrested a Swiss national in his rented beach house in Sta. Fe, Bantayan island where he allegedly molested young boys.
Walter Hauck, 66, was the subject of a search warrant, and was caught in the company of two minors.
The boys aged 14 and 17 were turned over to the care of social workers.
Hauck has been staying for about two years in Sta. Fe town in north Cebu, whose white sand beaches make it a sought-after tourist destination. He lived alone in the beach house. Neighbors, however, noticed that male youths would come and go in his cottage in barangay Talisay.
Yesterday’s raid followed three weeks of surveillance, and was prompted by complaints of Sta. Fe residents who reported the foreigner’s suspicious conduct to the Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB).
The operation was a joint effort of the NBI, the CLB and the Provincial Women’s Commission.
As of 6 p.m. last night, Hauck, the two rescued minors and three other male youths were being transported by boat to the Cebu mainland en route to the NBI office in Cebu City, said Heddah Largo, Gender and Development Officer of PWC.
A Sta. Fe social worker accompanied the group.
Hauck will be detained at the NBI stockade pending the filing of criminal charges against him with the prosecutors’ office tomorrow or Tuesday.
The raiding team led by NBI special investigator Agapito Gierran implemented the search warrant in Hauck’s beach house past 1 p.m. The search yielded sex toys and pornographic materials in the house, said the NBI.
Hauck faces a possible charge of violating Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, PWC chairperson, said they had a difficult time going after Hauck, who had established connections in the community.
“We had to be very careful in conducting the operation. We planned it very well and applied for a search warrant in court,” she told CDN over the phone.
The search warrant was issued Friday by Judge Antonio Marigomen of the Regional Trial Court Branch 61 in Bogo City.
CLB sought the commission’s assistance to rescue boys who were purportedly molested by the Swiss national.
“Based on the reports we got, the suspect took advantage of several local children. During the raid he was caught with two boys,” the vice governor said.
In 2009, an Amercian tourist was arrested for checking into a Sta. Fe beach resort with a 12-year-old sampaguita vendor from Cebu City. However, the parents of the girl would not file a complaint after the police rescued the minor.
Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said the town benefits from tourism but that local hospitality should not be abused.
“Visitors with good intention are welcome but if they engage in something illegal, dili namo, will will prosecute them,” said the mayor.
Esgana said he was told by the NBI about the foreigner’s surveillance and arrest, and that minors were involved.
It was not the first case of human trafficking in the town, Esgana told CDN.
He said police rescued two women in a resto-bar who were forced into prostitution when they arrived in Sta. Fe last July. The bar owner was from Manila.
The women, who came from Luzon, were promised jobs in a resort but once they arrived, they were made to go out at night to look for potential customers for the Sansi Bar.
“’The employees themselves sought our help. But the resto-bar was destroyed during typhoon Yolanda. The owner, who had a pending warrant of arrest, could no longer be found,” he said.
Last Friday, the Alien Registration Program (ARP) for foreign visitors was launched in Sta. Fe with the help of the Bureau of Immigration central office.
The registration runs from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30 next year.
The mayor said the database would help authorities monitor who goes in and out of the town.
“Actually I am happy with ARP. We can now determine those who have pending liabilities who come to the country to hide in the island. It will help us form a network and determine if they have good or bad intentions,” he said.
NBI Assistant Director Dominador Cimfranca said there will be “no let up in our campaign against human trafficking.”
“Exploiting minors is a heinous crime. That’s why the penalty is so stiff,” he said.
An offense of human trafficking that involves a child can draw a sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million if the accused is found guilty by final conviction./With Correspondent Apple Mae Ta-as