Provincial Capitol lauds arrest of child trafficker
The recent arrest of Liezyl Margallo, the alleged human trafficker whose monstrosity appeared to have no bounds, highlights the brutal realities of human trafficking in the Philippines.
But Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, a top advocate for women and children here, also finds comfort that after two years of being on the run, Margallo finally fell in the hands of law enforcers in the province.
This too, she said, highlights that Cebu is in the forefront of efforts to stop the lucrative trade that has brought all but misery in the lives of many women and children.
“I’m happy that she was arrested here. This only goes to show how active our IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking) members are,” Magpale said in Cebuano.
Margallo, a 23-year-old suspected child trafficker, is alleged to have helped an Australian boyfriend, Peter Scully, run his gruesome international cyberpornography trade.
While videotaping young children, ages one to 12 years old, Scully and Margallo forced their victims to perform appalling sexual acts and tortured them while the cameras rolled for the enjoyment of pedophiles across the globe and a fee of $10,000 per view.
Scully would do anything his customers told him to do – in his made to order videos – to the point of killing a 12-year-old girl in the course of the sexual abuse.
The atrocities which were filmed between the years 2011-2015 by Scully and Margallo in different locations in Mindanao sparked a global manhunt for the video producers.
Margallo had 16 pending arrest warrants in Cagayan de Oro City for purportedly luring Scully’s would-be victims, all female street children and young scavengers into her fold with the promise of food, a house and education.
She was arrested, Wednesday, on Malapascua Island, northern Cebu while vacationing with two British nationals.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking or IACAT which Vice Governor Magpale alludes to is composed of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC), the International Justice Mission (IJM), Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), and other members of civil society and faith-based organizations committed to fight human trafficking in the country.
It is IACAT’s mission to ensure the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration into mainstream society of trafficked persons rescued from trafficking rings. Margallo’s arrest, according to Magpale, was a testament of how serious IACAT members are in catching offenders, rescuing the victims and subsequently filing cases against their tormentors. However, Magpale lamented that the country’s justice system still lagged behind in the resolution of human trafficking cases. “We have a very good record of arrest and filing of cases, but our justice system is really slow. I hope that they can hasten the disposition of cases,” she said. Magpale appealed to the public to report to the authorities any suspected trafficking activities in their areas.
The reports will be treated with utmost confidentiality and surveillance will immediately be conducted, assured the vice governor.
Based on records of the Cebu Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC), incidents of human trafficking reported in Cebu were not as brutal as the case of Margallo’s victims in Mindanao.
“Dinhi sa atoa, wa ni nahitabo sa tanan natong na rescue, ang ato rang predominant at the time of the rescue is gikuyog sila but they were not maltreated. Kaning iyaha is a unique one (Here at home, this has not happened among all those that we had rescued. Predominantly what they did was just accompany the offender but they were not maltreated. This case is a unique one),” said Heedah Largo, executive assistant to Vice Governor Magpale and PWC member.
Inspired by the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign, Largo disclosed plans to hold “Tokhang” operations against cyber-related crimes by possibly knocking on the doors of suspected human traffickers and cyber pornographers in the province, and asking them to stop. /with USJ-R Intern Thea Verona N. Oliverio)
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