A Polish man was arrested in a Cebu City hotel after a 16-year-old girl he was with contacted her father for a lift home.
Although police have conceded that the teenager convinced the suspect she was of legal age, and she did not allege any sexual abuse, he is nonetheless facing charges.
According to investigators, the father received a text message from his daughter that suggested to him that she was trapped in a hotel room with Janusz Piotr Ciniewski on Saturday (May 19).
The father immediately called the police at about 10pm and officers went directly to the rented room in Barangay Kamputhaw.
However, Senior Inspector Sheila Gurtiza, who led the investigation, said that although the father assumed his daughter was being abused and kept against her will in the room, she was actually asking to be fetched because of hot weather.
“Actually, she did not want to be lazy but she thought her father was at home and available to collect her. It was just her father who believed that she was being harassed or abused,” she said.
She also described how the 31-year-old from Czestochowa saw the girl walking alone earlier in the evening. He asked her if she wanted to stay with him for the night and she agreed.
The officer also confirmed that the 16-year-old told the Polish man that she was of legal age and that he believed her — as he had no way to know otherwise.
Despite these apparently mitigating factors, Mr Ciniewski remains in detention pending the filing of charges against him.
Snr. Insp. Gurtiza said investigations were continuing, but for the Polish man to be alone with an underage girl was nonetheless illegal.
“We have a case filed against the foreigner but we are still preparing what to charge him for,” she added.
It is likely the suspect will be charged under Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law.
Under the child trafficking section of this legislation, 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 parlour, beach and/or other tourist resort or similar place” unless there are family ties or some other legal bond or obligation involved.