Five girls were rescued from three sisters who are accused of running an online child abuse operation in Lapu-Lapu City.
One of the children, who were aged five, seven, eight, 12 and 13, was the daughter of one of the suspects.
In the initial operation, 16-year-old “Jill” (not her real name) and 18-year-old “Megan” (also not her real name) were detained inside a mall in Barangay Pusok at 4.30pm on Thursday (March 22).
In their investigation and surveillance leading up to the arrest, it was confirmed that Jill transmitted indecent footage and photographs of children, and offered a 12-year-old girl and herself for a foreign client to watch online.
Megan was allegedly the one who claimed the payment, sent through a money transfer firm.
At 7pm on the same day, agents then went to Barangay Babag Dos where they arrested “Melanie” (real name withheld), an older sister of Jill and Megan, and rescued four children aged five, seven and eight.
Melanie was caught offering to sexually abuse the four girls, including her own daughter, and live-stream the acts online.
Then, at 3pm yesterday (Friday), a 13-year-old girl was rescued in Barangay Babag Dos in a follow-up operation.
The operations were conducted by the PNP Special Weapons and Tactics, Lapu-Lapu City Police Office Women & Children’s Protection Desk, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the International Justice Mission (IJM).
In a statement, the IJM said this it was the fourth operation in Lapu-Lapu against online sexual exploitation of children in recent weeks.
Last month, for example, we reported on the arrest of a woman in the city who was caught sexually abusing her three-year-old son on camera.
John Tanagho, IJM’s field office director in Cebu, said the operations were strong reminders that law enforcement’s ability to investigate online exploitation and arrest the perpetrators was gaining ground.
“People sexually abusing and exploiting children online in so-called ‘cybersex’ or ‘cyberpornography’ risk life imprisonment when caught by the police and should stop now. It’s especially devastating for the community to see families — in this case three sisters — all involved in these serious crimes against young children,” he said.