Mom pleads guilty to exposing her children, 4 others to cyberporn; gets 20 years
A 38-year-old mother will be spending the next 20 years in jail for selling her four children and four other minors to online pornography inside her home in Cordova town, Cebu, in 2016.
Vilma (not her real name) was convicted of simple trafficking in persons after she pleaded guilty before Judge Mory Nueva of the Regional Trial Court Branch 13 on Wednesday.
She was also ordered to pay a fine of P1 million, P100,000 in moral damages and P100,000 in exemplary damages.
Vilma is the 14th person to be convicted for online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines since January 2018, based on the records of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-governmental organization that has been actively fighting all forms of human trafficking and child exploitation.
While the law against human trafficking allows the media to identify the accused, Cebu Daily News has withheld her name to protect her children who were among the victims.
Lawyer John Tanagho, field office director of the IJM-Cebu, was happy with the outcome of the case.
“The lives of Filipino children are too precious to allow brutal sexual abuse and exploitation online to continue without accountability,” he said in a press statement.
“A long prison sentence awaits people caught engaging in OSEC (online sexual exploitation of children),” he said.
Tanagho said Vilma made a wise choice to plead guilty since she was able to reduce her sentence from a life imprisonment to 20 years in jail.
A shorter sentence, he added, gave Vilma a chance to rehabilitate herself while at the same time, provide justice to the victims without having them to undergo a potentially re-traumatizing testimony.
In a sworn affidavit, one of the victims described how Vilma forced her and the other children to perform sexual acts through live-streamed video in an abandoned store owned by the accused’s partner in Barangay Ibabao, Cordova town, in 2016.
Based on the investigation, Vilma had abused the minors for several years for the pleasure of online pedophiles in Australia, the United States and Germany.
The local police hatched an operation against the accused on Sept. 8, 2016 after receiving a tip from the Australian Federal Police.
Senior Supt. Romeo Perigo, chief of the Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC)-Visayas Field Unit, said they were happy that justice was served for children abused by Vilma.
“Today’s conviction brings closure to one of the cases on Trafficking in Persons that WCPC Visayas Field Office handled. It is a victory for the prosecution, arresting officers, IJM assisting lawyers, the four minor victims, the Department of Justice, the police, International Justice Mission and the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking -Region 7. We are elated with pride and satisfaction,” he said.
The victims remain under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development where they are receiving psycho-social and rehabilitation services to overcome the years of abuse and trauma.
Cordova Mayor Therese Sitoy-Cho also hailed the court’s ruling, saying it served as a lesson for others who were still engaged in the cyberpornography business.
“It is frustrating to know that online sexual exploitation of children happens in our municipality, despite our vigilance. Thus, we are always grateful when these illegal activities get exposed and the people behind are caught and punished by the law,” she said.
Cordova town on Mactan Island has been identified by law enforcers as a “hotspot” for home-based cyberporn.
“And even if they are from Cordova, we will not condone their wrongdoing. We let the law deal with them. Let justice take its course,” Cho added.
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