SEVEN KIDS RESCUED

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Nestle L. Semilla, Norman V. Mendoza September 08,2016 - 10:43 PM

Seven children have fallen victims to cyberpornography. And it happened in Cordova town. Again.

Police operatives yesterday arrested a couple who allegedly exposed their children to cyberpornography in Barangay Ibabao of the seaside town of Cordova on Mactan Island.

Some of the minors were found naked in front of a web camera when authorities barged into a couple’s home in Fatima Village past 5 a.m. Thursday, said Senior Insp. Jomar Miguel, the chief of the Cordova Municipal Police Office.

Four children were rescued from the couple’s house.

In an adjacent house, law enforcers also rescued three other minors and arrested their guardian.

The youngest victim was seven years old, said Miguel, but he could not be certain about the age of the oldest child since the rescued minors’ records were with the Philippine National Police’s Regional Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC).

While the law allows the media to identify the suspects of human trafficking, Cebu Daily News is withholding the names of the three suspects to protect the identities of the victims who are their children and relatives.

Miguel said the operatives were armed with a search warrant issued by Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras.

The police found nude photos and computer gadgets and accessories subject for confiscation and forensic examination.

According to Miguel, the Cordova police merely assisted the WCPC, the International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Department of Justice in conducting the operation.

Details were still sketchy since WCPC, which led the operation, refused to give any statement to the media yesterday.

An officer of the police unit said they will first ask permission from Camp Crame to release details to reporters.

Focus on Cordova

Authorities had been monitoring Cordova town where a number of individuals were arrested for cyberpornography operations.

Since 2011, law enforcers raided home-based cyberporn businesses involving children in Cordova town.

In those raids, parents were arrested and charged with qualified human trafficking for exposing their children online to pedophiles for a fee.

Last July 30, the police also arrested a 22-year-old mother for allegedly videotaping her two daughters aged 2 and 5 while bathing nude near a well in Barangay Buagsong, Cordova.

Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy Chu, reached by phone last night, admitted that human trafficking remains a big problem in her municipality and they are doing everything to stop it.

“It is disgusting to know that some people are still doing it in our town. But because we don’t stop catching, so we got them,” she said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.

Chu said eradicating human trafficking is her priority aside from getting rid of illegal drugs in Cordova.

“We will never tolerate their illegal activity/livelihood . . .,” she said.

An education drive has been done in the municipality to inform and teach people about the ill-effect of cyberpornography, she said.

No let up

Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in Central Visayas, earlier said there would be no let up in their campaign against online exploitation and pornography.

“We’re closely monitoring online crimes, and the government will not stop until we get rid of cyberpornography and other forms of sexual exploitation,” he said.

“Yes, exposing one, two, or even three kids to cyberpornography is disturbing. But the numbers don’t really matter. What concerns me is the fact that there are parents who can afford to exploit their own children inside their homes where they are supposed to take refuge and feel safe,” he said.

Cebu Daily News tried but failed to reach IJM through the phone. A text message sent the organization’s spokesperson was also left unanswered.

The suspects will be facing charges for violating Republic Act (RA) 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003; RA 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012; and RA 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act before the prosecutors’ office.

Since the offender is the parent and the victim is a minor, the offense falls under qualified trafficking, a non-bailable case.

If convicted, they could face life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million.

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