The police have arrested a mother in Butuan City who was exploiting her children for online sexual abuse — including one aged just three years old.
The police and social workers, assisted by the International Justice Mission (IJM), conducted an entrapment operation in Barangay Mahogany yesterday (Thursday, April 26).
As well as arresting the female suspect, they also rescued six children — three boys and three girls — aged from three to 14. Five of them were children of the suspected exploiter.
According to a statement by the IJM, they caught the mother “in the act of selling the children to undercover agents posing as customers online” after police officers posed as overseas clients.
The suspect reportedly asked the undercover cops for 15,000 pesos for each child to be part of a “sex show”.
The police in Butuan were able to track the suspect thanks to the UK’s National Crime Agency, which just caught a British citizen paying for the production of child abuse images.
By monitoring his online accounts, investigators were able to pinpoint the suspected exploiter in the Philippines.
In a statement issued today, IJM Manila field officer Reynaldo Bicol said: “The online sexual exploitation of children is the most serious form of human trafficking we see today.
“We see it all over Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This is a national issue and should be the concern of all Filipinos, not just in the country, but also those living abroad.”
The suspect is now facing charges for violating Republic Acts 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) and 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act).
Senior Superintendent Villamor Tullao, who led yesterday’s entrapment operation, said Butuan police were now planning follow-up operations against other suspects they have identified in the city.
The arrest is just the latest successful operation targeting the online sexual abuse of children. Last month, we reported that five girls were rescued from three sisters accused of running an online child abuse operation in Lapu-Lapu City.
That mission was also assisted by the IJM, which is a global organization that seeks to protect the poor from violence in the developing world.