Bacolod has been identified as a hotspot for the online sexual abuse of children.
Superintendent Maria Shiela Portento, head of the Women and Children Protection Division at Camp Crame, said the city was considered a “place of interest.”
“There are already three cases in a short span of time,” she said. “It has to be monitored.”
She said Philippine police regularly receive tip-offs and information from foreign counterparts like the FBI, Australian Federal Police and others.
“When these reports bear the same locations, it’s an indicator that the locality is a hotspot,” she said.
In the past two months, three entrapment operations have been conducted to rescue children from cybersex dens in the city after their mothers and relatives forced them to perform sexual acts in front of web cams.
In an operation on May 5, a mother of three was caught offering one of her daughters to an Australian while another girl was rescued in the second operation after her mother pimped her to an American.
Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, acting director of Bacolod City Police Office, said there was “active” cyber patrolling nationwide, including in Bacolod.
He added that law enforcers from other countries have “active surveillance” for illegal transactions like trafficking of children and online pornography involving minors, which they immediately relay to the authorities in the Philippines.
In Thursday’s raid, a 35-year-old woman was arrested after a week-long surveillance.
The team rescued her two children, a two-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl, as well as two nieces, aged 17 and 22.
Three other girls, aged five, 14 and 16, neighbours of the suspect, were also rescued.
The woman was caught in the act of offering her daughter to perform sexual acts for a customer online.
Mr Wanky said the person online was actually an undercover police officer who pretended to be a foreign client for the entrapment operation.
He said one of the customers of the suspect, a Norwegian, had recently been arrested in Norway, which led to the surveillance and entrapment of the woman.
All six children are now in the care of the City Department of Social Services and Development, while the suspect is facing charges for violation of cybercrime law, child abuse and anti-trafficking in person.
Mr Wanky also said that some neighbours of the suspect might also be involved in the online abuse. “Possibly, some of the parents know about it and have benefitted from it.
“From the interviews, their statements are contradicting. They say they don’t know about it, they also say they suspected that there’s an illegal activity in their neighbour’s house,” he said.