NBI, PNP arrest couple for alleged online sexual exploitation of children in Cavite

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested a couple suspected of the online sexual exploitation of 4 children during a sting operation in Bacoor City, Cavite, on Monday, July 20.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a press release on Wednesday, July 22, that the suspects – live-in partners – offered to livestream the sexual abuse of 4 children aged 2 to 8, for money.

The rescued children, who all lived with the couple, include the children of the male suspect and the female suspect’s niece and nephew. (READ: [OPINION | Dash of SAS] Online sexual exploitation of children is a family business)

They will face charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act,  RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act, and RA 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Act) as amended by RA 9231.

The victims were brought to a Department of Social Welfare and Development shelter where they received trauma-informed interventions, IJM said. (FAST FACTS: Why online sexual exploitation of children happens in the Philippines)

The operation was a joint effort of the  NBI-Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) and the PNP-Women and Children Protection Center-Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (PNP WCPC-ATIPD), with the support of the Bacoor City Police Station, the Australian Federal Police, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA) and IJM.

“This operation continues to show NBI's resolve against the heinous crime of OSEC. We remain vigilant and committed to protecting children in the Philippines from being exploited online,” said NBI Deputy Director Vincente de Guzman.

WCPC-ATIPD chief Colonel Sheila  Portento, for her part, said, “We have achieved another win in the fight against traffickers who prey on the most vulnerable who cannot protect themselves from online abuse.”

Rey Bicol, IJM Philippines Manila Field Office Director, said that “through close collaboration with foreign law enforcement agencies, our law enforcers have rescued 4 more children from the horrors of this crime, who can now begin their journey towards healing.”

“Every day more child abusers are being placed in jail who will no longer be able to exploit the most vulnerable for profit,” Bicol added.  

The Australian Federal Police had earlier referred the case to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC), which is seen as a  “model for an enhanced global response against online sexual exploitation of children.”

Since its commencement in February 2019, PICACC has conducted 53 operations that led to the rescue of 181 victims and the arrest of 51 suspects.

PICACC is a cooperation along local law enforcement and the Australian Federal Police and the UK NCA, in partnership with  IJM.  

Acting Senior Officer Rachel Ball of the Australian Federal Police and David Cater, UK NCA Regional Manager for Asia Pacific, said in separate statements that their organizations remain committed to fighting OSEC in the Philippines. – Rappler.com