Couple arrested in Naval, Biliran, for online sex abuse of children

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today's raid in Naval
Today’s raid in Naval, Biliran. Picture courtesy of the IJM.

Police arrested two online child sex traffickers and rescued two 14-year-old boys they were planning to abuse during a raid in Naval, Biliran.

At 11am today (Tuesday, August 6), police stormed a hotel room where the couple had taken the boys to be sexually abused by the female suspect in exchange for money.

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Both boys have been taken into protective custody. A 15-year-old girl was also removed from the room along with the couple’s two young children — a two-month-old girl and a one-year-old boy. 

The girl and the two infants will undergo assessment to determine if they, too, have been abused.

Four further victims — three boys aged 17 and a woman aged 20 — have been rescued at a separate location in Naval. These victims were identified during a police investigation of the female suspect’s online activities.

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All of the victims are now in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The female suspect, aged 18, and her live-in partner, 28, will be charged under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. They have not been named in order to protect the anonymity of their victims. 

While it was only the woman who allegedly offered to abuse the children, her partner was the one who took them to the hotel.

Police received information about the woman’s online activities in June. An investigation then revealed that she had offered to abuse children for foreign ‘clients’.

Romeo Perigo, who led today’s raid, said: “OSEC [online sexual exploitation of children] perpetrators think they can evade the law. But they are completely mistaken.

“They will be caught and suffer the consequence of their actions — a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and fines amounting to millions. We will not tolerate anyone resorting to this illegal activity for quick money. I urge the public to be vigilant and report OSEC incidents immediately to law enforcers to protect children from the trauma this crime brings.”

The raid was supported by the International Justice Mission (IJM), a charity that works to fight slavery and exploitation. 

Its Cebu Field Office Director John Tanagho said: “When government agencies work together to end OSEC, traffickers don’t stand a chance, and one day OSEC will only be read about in history books, not breaking news.”

To report a suspected case of OSEC, text ENDOSEC to 7444-ATIPD or 7444-28473.

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