Thirteen minor girls, alleged victims of cyber pornography, as identified by the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking were rescued in Cordova, last Friday, September 6.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 now have custody of the minor-victims, who are aged 9-14.
Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, co-chair of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC), and the Provincial Council for Welfare of Children (PCWC), said the province will take responsibility on the aftercare of the children.
However, the vice governor said she will still consult Governor Hilario P. Davide III where to house the latest victims.
The province through the PWC and PCWC functioned as the facilitator of the post raid care of the minors. Governor Hilario P. Davide III is the chairman of both commissions.
According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), they were able to identify the minors through photographs gathered following the previous raids they conducted in Cordova.
“Based on the evidence we were able to seize, we found out that that there are several pictures of children that were later on identified,” said Atty. Dante Bonoan, chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (ATHRAD) of NBI.
Bonoan said the children were exploited as they were made to pose naked in front of the camera and perform sexual acts in the internet. “This is still a violation of the law on trafficking,” he added.
The Council took eight of the victims into custody while attending their classes at school. The others were picked up in the barangay as they are out of school youth, according to Erik Nouqui, deputy chief of ATHRAD. Some of them are sisters.
Bonoan explained that the raid was made in consultation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which preferred to hold it in school. They also coordinated with the Department of Education regarding the raid.
The Council is also working closely with the US Department of Homeland Security because of the standing mutual legal assistance treaty between the Philippines and the US. The Homeland Security Investigation has been giving tips to the authorities because most of the clients are from the US.
The NBI also nabbed three women for interrogation during the operation. Bonoan said they are still studying on whom they will be facing charges after the latest operation.
More arrests related to cybersex will be conducted in the future. Magpale said they have also conducted surveillance in other towns. “Child pornography is not limited to Cordova but we have a more serious problem in Cordova,” NBI 7 Director Antonio Pagatpat said. (Xerxes Alkuino)