LURKING DANGER

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Nestle L. Semilla |January 23,2017 - 11:49 PM
Councilor Dave Tumulak.  (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Councilor Dave Tumulak. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Unmonitored FB usage leads teens to risky liaisons

Police incidents involving the use of social media by young people have prompted the Philippine National Police and local government authorities to issue this warning:

Watch your kids and check on their activities online as they may become the unknowing target of predators.

The warning comes in the wake of police reports that the use of social networking sites, which exposes children to potential danger, has in fact resulted in actual danger in the case of at least two Cebuano teenagers this month.

Though the cases, which reached the attention of the PNP, are deemed isolated, deputy mayor on police matters, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, warned that these are actually signs of a growing social problem that has been swept under the rug by victimized Cebuano families who fear public humiliation brought about by scandals.

Earlier, security personnel of the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) arrested a 33-year-old man accused of abducting a ninth grade student.

On Saturday evening, 15-year-old girl Ana (not her real name) was rescued by authorities at the CSBT while on her way home to Samboan town, southern Cebu.

Her family sought the help of CSBT officers after they were told that the girl was kidnapped by her rumored boyfriend, a 33-year-old man, whom she just met on Facebook.

Boyet Miao, a resident of San Francisco town on Camotes Islands, was arrested by terminal guards and was turned over to the police.

Charges were filed against Miao before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office.

But according to Tumulak, Ana’s case is not the only one as there had been several other cases reported though unofficially of irresponsible social media usage resulting to kidnappings and unwanted pregnancies.

Tumulak expressed alarm over the unmonitored sexually provocative, expletive-laden postings of young people on Facebook and other social media platforms.

“Alarming kaayo ang trend of postings nga vulgar. Young people posting sexy and tantalizing pictures in the way they take their selfies. They open themselves to temptation,” noted Tumulak.

Screenshot of the Facebook login or signup page.

Screenshot of the Facebook login or signup page.

“Be a responsible FB user so you don’t expose yourself to danger. Personal information should not be disclosed because there are a lot of bad elements out there just waiting for the right time to see your weaknesses based on your post,” he added.

Last January 10, a 59-year-old Polish man was also arrested by the police just before attempting to leave from Hagnaya Port in San Remigio, northern Cebu.

Miroslaw Roman Nieczaja was arrested after he was seen with a 17-year-old girl.

The girl admitted to police that she met Nieczaja on social media and lied about her age.

Nieczaja was charged with human trafficking before the provincial prosecutors’ office.

“Daghan na gyud kaayo mga insidente. Grabe. Ang uban nagpakahilom lang (These types of incidents are really alarming, but others just choose to keep silent),” said Tumulak.

Be vigilant

Deputy director of the Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit, Chief Insp. Rose Santolorin, noted that a growing number of teenagers in the region have been devoted to using social media and messaging applications which expose them to several forms of danger.

In order to protect their children, parents must learn to catch up with the trends in modern communication, she said.

“We, parents, especially mothers should know what our children are doing. At this point in time, they don’t only have a young age. They still have a tender mind too,” said Santolorin, noting that it is the parents’ primary obligation to monitor their children.

“We need to know who our children are communicating with. We must get to know their peers and their background. Let us not allow our children to go out of the house without returning home at night,” she added.

If possible, Santolorin said, parents should limit the use of cell phones by their children.

“If it’s hard to do it, then monitor your children,” she said.

Missing

The police received another alarm involving a 15-year-old girl, Cathy (not her real name), who was allegedly kidnapped by her “textmate” in a mall in Danao City on Sunday.

A report said Cathy went out of their house to attend the 10 a.m. Mass at the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish.

After the Eucharistic celebration, the girl and a female friend dropped by an Internet cafe to have a school project printed before they proceeded to a mall.

The 33-year old suspect is  now detained at Carbon Police Station. (CDN NESTLE SEMILLA)

The 33-year old suspect is now detained at Carbon Police Station. (CDN NESTLE SEMILLA)

A man, who had been communicating with Cathy through text message, arrived and allegedly convinced the girl to go with him.
Cathy heeded the request.

At 12:41 p.m. Cathy sent her aunt a text message that read: “Mommy, mommy, gikidnap ko og tulo ka tawo. Gihulga ko nga patyon. (Mommy, mommy. I was kidnapped by three persons. They threatened to kill me).”

She sent another text message to her female friend saying, “My loves, gikidnap ko (My loves, I was kidnapped).”

Cathy’s family tried to contact her through the phone but she could no longer be reached.

Concerned over what might have happened to the girl, her relatives reported the incident to the Danao City Police Station.

“First time ni nahitabo niya. Dili ni siya basta-basta lang molakaw nga dili mopauli (This is the first time this happened to her. She won’t leave the house without returning home),” the aunt said.

With the boyfriend

But Danao City police chief Senior Insp. Alejandro Batobalonos said that upon investigation, footage of the mall’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) showed that Cathy casually went with her rumored boyfriend, a middle-aged man.

“Nag-agbay ag-bay pa man gani sa laki ning babaye (She even put her arm over the man’s shoulders),” Batobalonos said.

He said police received reports that Cathy did not like to go home because her aunt was strict. Policemen went to the man’s house in Mandaue City yesterday but did not find the two “lovers.”

Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act prohibits “any person to keep or have in his company a minor, 12 years or under or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint, discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach and/or other tourist resort or similar places.”

This law was also used yesterday by the police in filing a complaint against Miao for bringing with him 15-year-old Ana who was rescued at the CSBT.

CSBT security head Jonathan Tumulak said Ana’s family asked their help when they received a text from the girl saying that the man abducted her.

Miao courted her through Facebook until the latter went to her hometown in Samboan and brought her to Cebu City last Jan. 16.

Ana said that the man also brought her to a lodging house and to his apartment where they stayed for five days.

In an interview, Miao denied abducting the girl as he claimed that they were already in a relationship for about a week.

“Wala nako siya gikidnap. Siya mismo ang nikuyog nako (I did not kidnap her. She voluntarily went with me),” he said.

A file photo of the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

A file photo of the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

Miao said Ana asked him to visit her in Samboan for them to personally meet.

He said he agreed to the request and went to Samboan before they decided to go to Cebu City.

Ana, he said, decided to return home to Samboan.

Miao said he accompanied Ana to CSBT last Saturday. When he left, Miao said the girl allegedly texted him, saying she was afraid to go home.

“Nagsakay na unta siya og bus pero gaduha-duha naman siya nga mobalik sa ilaha kay nahadlok siya sa iyahang papa kay nadugay siya og uli,” he said.

(She was inside the bus. But she had second thoughts of going home because she was afraid of her father who may have been mad because it took a while before she could go home.)

Studies show that “stranger danger” is among the dangers of social media usage as children may find it hard to judge strangers they meet in person, and even harder to tell friends from foes, online.

There are 47 million active FB accounts in the Philippines.

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