Bogo forms anti-trafficking group after child sex cases
More vigilance is needed to protect children in Bogo City, Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. said yesterday.
He said an anti-trafficking help desk was recently put up at the terminal of the Polambato Wharf in Bogo City, where suspicious activities have been noted.
He said Plan International is also helping the city deal with the growing problem of child sex abuse.
But the mayor wasn’t aware of Tuesday’s arrest of a 73-year-old Canadian who brought four minor girls to a Bogo city motel – until Cebu Daily News brought it up in the phone interview.
Martinez said he only received reports of two previous cases involving foreigners arrested in Bogo for picking up minors for sex.
He pointed out that these foreigners were not residents of Bogo.
READ: Foreign retiree caught with four girls in motel room
“We have many foreign tourists who come over because there are many rest and recreation spots in Bogo,” he said.
“The facilities are here and it’s a live city. If they just come here to bring their dirt it’s hard for us to come after them,” the mayor said.
He said he issued an executive order requiring all barangay captains to register non-Filipino citizens living in or are visiting their areas.
This will help the city government keep tabs on their whereabouts if police are pursuing them for alleged offenses like child molestation or trafficking, he said.
The four girls rescued by police on Tuesday were turned over to relatives since Bogo city has no center available for their temporary custody.
“We have no shelter here for the children so for the meantime they are staying with relatives,” said PO3 Glecilda Claro of the women and Children Protection Desk.
She said police prepared the affidavits of two girls from Bogo City and will file today a charge against Levis Talbot of Quebec, Canada for violation of the special law on child abuse Republic Act 7610.
Two girls were sent home to Consolacion town.
Two sisters from Bogo city were left with a relative in Daanbantayan town, since the girls’ 27-year-old mother and 63-year-old grandmother were immediately arrested by the police on suspicion of collusion with the retired Canadian, who checked into Gabriellle’s Court motel on Sunday.
Under RA 7610, it is unlawful for a person be in the company of a minor 12 years old or younger or one who is 10 years his junior in a public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint or other tourist resort or similar place unless they are related.
The child must be related to the adult by blood, affinity or some bond recognized by law, custom or tradition or keeping company because of a social, moral or legal obligation.
Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale who co-chairs the Provincial Women’s Council, said they are ready to offer assistance, including finding a temporary shelter for the girls if a request is made.
She said the motel management could be liable for accommodating the foreigner and four kids especially after the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu passed a resolution committing that owners would report any suspicious foreigner who brings in children.
The four girls aged 9-14 were rescued by police at the motel after the 27-year-old mother of one girl complained.
Police later found out that the mother squealed on the Canadian because she didn’t get the money she had asked for.
“According to her husband who is in jail, the mother was a drug dependent and asked money to buy drugs from the foreigner. But she was only given P20 which irked her so she reported to the police about Talbot being with four minor girls,” said PO3 Claro.
Claro said that according to the children, this was the first time they met the foreigner.
But before the motel visit, he invited the children to eat at a fastfood chain.
Police are looking into reports that Talbot was paying for the schooling of the two girls from Consolacion and paying for the construction of two house of the arrested 63-year-old grandmother.
A Canadian Embassy representative called the police to check on Talbot yesterday but he had no lawyer representing him yet.
Since February, three male foreigners have been arrested in Bogo City on suspicion of engaging children in sex.
Mayor Martinez said he formed a committee against human trafficking last Monday following a seminar conducted by Plan International, a development NGO, in Friday last week.
The committee is composed of members from Plan, the Bogo city police chief, Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) members, and at least 18 barangay captains who participated in the seminar.
Plan International operates in 51 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote and protect the rights of children.
The NGO recently donated computers, cameras, and other office supplies to help Bogo City document cases of human trafficking, and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Bogo city to set up community-based mechanisms for anti-trafficking and disaster response.
Mayor Martinez said he is leaving it to the newly formed committee and Plan International to take initatives.
He said he does not want to unduly “antagonize” foreign tourists who want to visit Bogo City.
“Parents should be responsible for their children,” he said, adding that some need “discipline” and orientation about parenthood.
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