Four children — one aged only two — have been rescued from from a “cyberporn den” in Iligan city.
Five suspects were arrested after being caught red-handed live-streaming the sexual abuse of children aged two, six, eight and 13. The raid targeted a home in the village of Saray on Thursday, May 30.
Taken into custody were Josejyn Binuya, aged 43, Mark Kevin Ragas, 25, Samsodin Lantingan, 22, Jholly Magsayo, 18, and Kessy Magsayo, 15.
“One of the rescued minors is the daughter of one suspect,” the International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a statement.
The suspects face charges of human trafficking, child pornography, child abuse and cybercrime.
The joint rescue operation was conducted on Thursday by the Police’s Women and Children Protection Center, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (RIACAT) and IJM. The IJM is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.
“In the light of what is happening now in Mindanao, our local law enforcement partners still combat online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) with their lives on the line,” said IJM national director Samson Inocencio.
According to IJM, there has been an alarming rise of online sexual abuse of children in the Philippines. According to data gathered by America’s FBI, there are some 75,000 online predators at any given moment in the world.
A large proportion of their victims, the IJM says, are Filipino children.
From 2011 to 2017, IJM has rescued 201 child victims of sexual exploitation. More than half of them were aged under 12, and over 70 per cent were suffering abuse that involved their own parents, relatives, or close family friends.
The US recently gave $3.5 million to the Philippines to assist the fight against the vile crime.
IJM is also helping train police in tracking down suspects and their victims. Police officer Robert Sorilla, who was involved in Thursday’s raid, said: “It was a big help for the police because we learned best practices on online surveillance, gathering pieces of evidence online, OSEC investigative techniques, and the efficient use of a tactical plan.”