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Cops nab online sex traffickers

SAMAR – Two suspected online traffickers who offer videos of sexually children – ages 10, 12 and 16 – were nabbed by operatives from the Philippine National Po-lice Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC) – Visayas Field Unit and Samar Provincial Police Office (SPPO) in two separate entrapment operations in Sta. Margarita and Calbayog City on Saturday, July 28, 2018.

Police arrested the first sus-pect, a 33-year-old mother (name withheld), in Barangay Cautod, Sta. Margarita after she offered to livestream sexually explicit acts in-volving her 10-year-old daughter in exchange for P5,000.00 from an online customer.

Samar Provincial Social Wel-fare Office (PSWDO) rescued the 10-year old victim and removed 4 other children ages 12, 7, 5 and 2 who were found inside the suspect’s house at the time of the arrest.

Police also arrested the second suspect, 20-year-old Mary Grace Soronel, in Barangay Obrero, Cal-bayog City on Saturday evening, after she offered two children, ages 12 and 16, to be sexually exploited online.

The authorities have moni-tored the suspects’ illegal online activities over a month now after they received a confidential intel-ligence on the suspects. During the surveillance, police confirmed that the two suspects had been trafficking children online to customers abroad for pornography.

During the entrapment, police recovered the suspects’ smart phones believed to be used for online sexual exploitation of children.

“The arrest of these perpetrators means protection of not only the children rescued from their ongoing abuse, but also the protection of other children whom they would have eventually abused if they were not arrested. Every single child protected is worth it,” said Atty. Lucille Dejito, International Justice Mission Cebu’s Director of Legal Interventions.

She added that “with just a smart phone, inexpensive access to internet and enough English words to communicate in cybersex trade, perpetrators think that the cost of engaging in online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is low and that they can perpetuate it with impunity.”

However, she pointed out that when there is aggressive and effective law enforcement, which increases detection and arrests, incarceration for a nonbailable offense with a stiff penalty of life imprisonment and fine of millions in pesos, it will send a strong message to perpetrators that the cost of engaging in online sexual exploitation of children is way higher than they thought.

The two suspects are now detained at Calbayog City Police Station.

Police are preparing to f ile charges against the two suspects for violations under Republic Act (RA)9208, as amended or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, and other related charges.

Meanwhile, the rescued children are under the protective custody of DSWD and are now safe in a government facility. They may need many social services, including therapy and rehabilitation, and they would only be returned to the community after a comprehensive family home and risk assessment is conducted to confirm that the home is a safe place for the children and that they will no longer be sexually abused or exploited by their parents, relatives or neighbors.

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