Mother forced kids as young as four to perform online sex acts

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A Cebu mother has been sentenced to 20 years for forcing her four children, along with four other minors, to perform sex acts online.

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The 38-year-old woman from Cordova town was convicted of ‘simple trafficking in persons’ after she pleaded guilty at the Cebu City Regional Trial Court on Wednesday (June 6). 

The court also ordered her to pay a one million peso fine, 100,000 pesos in ‘moral damages’ and 100,000 in ‘exemplary damages’.

She is the 14th person to be convicted for online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines since January, according to the International Justice Mission. The IJM is a a global organisation that works to protect the poor and vulnerable. Its lawyers have provided practical and legal assistance to the victims.

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John Tanagho, field office director of the IJM in Cebu, said: “The lives of Filipino children are too precious. A long prison sentence awaits people caught engaging in online sexual exploitation of children.” 

One of the victims described how the woman — who has not been identified to protect the anonymity of her children — forced her and the other youngsters to perform sex acts in front of a web cam. This was then sold to ‘clients’ based in Australia, Germany and the USA.

The victims were three boys aged between six and 15, and five girls aged from four to 11.

Local police led the operation to trap her in September, 2016, after receiving a tip-off from the Australian Federal Police.

Senior Superintendent Romeo Perigo, chief of the Women and Children’s Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit, said his team was “elated” that justice had finally been served.

The children remain in the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, where they are receiving psychosocial and rehabilitation services to overcome the years of abuse and trauma.

Meanwhile, police rescued five young girls and arrested their alleged human trafficker in Capas town, Tarlac province, today (Friday, June 8).

Marlyn Baptista, aged 35, was arrested at her home after a police operation assisted by law enforcers from the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden. Support also came from the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IJM.

Baptista has been charged for human trafficking (Republic Act 10364), child abuse (RA 7610) and cybercrime (RA 10175).

The minors were taken into protective custody in Quezon City.

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