A British man has been arrested in Santandar, Cebu, after he was caught holding hands with a 14-year-old Filipina.
Sebastian Cole was spotted with the girl at Puerto del Sur Port on Thursday afternoon (October 18).
According to Bomba Radyo, the 33-year-old told police that he had employed her as a tourist guide in Dumaguete City. He also claimed that he had asked her to help him renew his visa.
Police Senior Inspector Margienette Yosores said Cole failed to present documents to prove a “filial relationship” with the girl, resulting in his arrest under Republic Act 7610.
Cole remains in police custody. The girl, identified as being from Alegria, has been turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Santander.
A provision in Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, prohibits a foreigner from being in the company of a minor who is not related to him.
The law states that it is illegal for “any person who shall keep or have in his company a minor, 12 years or younger or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint, discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach and/or other tourist resort or similar place” unless there are family ties or some other legal bond or obligation involved.
The law is regularly used against foreigners when there is no direct evidence of sexual abuse having occurred.
Last December 26, for example, Belgian Koen Van Den Broek was arrested at Cebu’s South Bus Terminal. He was in the company of a 13-year-old girl, her nine-year-old brother, a three-year-old girl, her four-year-old brother and two aunts aged 18 and 19. The group were about to depart for a family vacation in Moalboal, and were due to be joined by a mother of some of the children en route.
Despite the family assuring police that Mr Van Den Broek was just a family friend, he was charged under the act. Eventually, in July, the charges were thrown out of court.
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