Samar mother gets 15 years for online sexual abuse of 10-year-old daughter

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Samar mother
The Samar mother receives her sentence. Photograph courtesy of the Philippine News Agency.

A mother from Samar who live streamed the sexual abuse of her 10-year-old daughter has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Judge Reynaldo Clemens of Calbayog City Regional Trial Court Branch 31 sentenced the 33-year-old after she pleaded guilty to offering to live stream the abuse of the girl. 

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As part of a plea bargain, she was sentenced after confessing to the crime of ‘attempted trafficking in persons’ rather than ‘qualified trafficking in persons’.

After pleading guilty to her crimes, the woman faced her victims, including a niece, in a reconciliatory meeting facilitated by a social worker and a church preacher.

The mother’s name has been withheld to protect her daughter’s identity.

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“I was hurt when you took pictures of me naked. I felt guilty because I got separated from you for what happened,” the child told her.

“Forgive me for what I’ve done to you,” she asked her daughter and niece. “I am ashamed of it. I hope you can forgive me, and we can be together again.”

As well as the prison sentence, the Samar woman was also ordered to pay damages totalling 775,000 pesos.

Regional Prosecutor Irwin Maraya, head of the Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Force in Eastern Visayas, said the plea-bargained conviction “is a product of the joint effort of government and private stakeholders”.

“This ‘one team’ approach is key to combating these depredations on the young and innocent,” he added.

Women and Children Protection Center –Visayas Field Unit chief Romeo Perigo hailed the successful plea bargaining.

“Today’s conviction is a win for the government in its campaign against online sexual exploitation. The reduced sentence gives the perpetrator an opportunity for reforms – to reintegrate to the community after serving her sentence and take care of her family once she’s released from prison,” he said.

The accused was originally charged with qualified trafficking in persons, which bears the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of up to five million pesos.

Such a trial would be likely to last for several years, the International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a statement today (Sunday, March 10).

Police and social workers rescued the girl and the trafficker’s 13-year-old niece and eight-year-old nephew during an entrapment operation last July at the woman’s home in Santa Margarita town.

IJM, which works with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems, said “this conviction through plea bargaining affirms that in holding online sexual exploitation of children perpetrators accountable, child protection should always be prioritised”.

John Tanagho, IJM Cebu field office director, said: “The State, through Prosecutor Jennylyn Sumagang-Durmiendo, obtained swift justice for the victims.

“The State also protected the children from the rigours of having to testify in court against their own mother and aunt. 

“What has been observed is that convicting the accused through plea bargaining is actually a victim-centred approach to justice because it facilitates healing and prevents further trauma from court testimony. 

“At the same time, 15 years in prison is a strong sentence that punishes the trafficker and also allows for rehabilitation.” 

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