Seven Filipinos are facing strings of charges for qualified trafficking, child abuse and sexual abuse filed by the Police Women and Children Protection Center in Central Visayas last July 5.
The filing of at least 40 charges against the suspects was made following the conviction of Swedish national Bengt Kristoffersson, 58, in a court in Sweden for possession of child pornography materials, conspiracy to rape children and incitement to commit aggravated rape. He has been sentenced to serve a jail term of five years.
The seven Filipino suspects were identified as Kristoffersson’s accomplices since they started engaging in cyberporn activities in 2009.
In a press conference, Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, who heads the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (Iacat), explained that they cannot divulge the names of the suspects as most of them are closely related to the victims.
Also present during the press conference, which was led by Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale, were officials of the International Justice Mission (IJM), Iacat and the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office.
The conviction of Kristoffersson in Sweden and the pieces of evidence, including data recovered from his computer, prompted law enforcement agencies and anti-cyberporn frontliners in Cebu to hunt down his local contacts.
Swedish authorities retrieved screen shots, chat logs and payments through electronic money transfers to the Philippines dated back to 2009 from Kristofferson’s computer, while the latter was being investigated for a separate rape case. These helped authorities to identify the alleged accomplices and their addresses in Cordova, one of the towns in Cebu Province.
Cyber forensics retrieved 127 pornographic images, among others. Of these images, 20 of them showed Filipino children, aged 4 to 11, at the time of the alleged abuse, according to the Swedish Court of Appeals.
Kristoffersson had directly communicated with the perpetrators in Cebu for the alleged abuses on the minor victims.
“He offered these women (perpetrators) more money if the child is exposed to even greater pain while being abused,” read the press release distributed during the news conference.
Based on the decision of a court in Sweden, Kristoffersson has been ordered to pay compensatory damages to the victims apart from his five-year imprisonment.
Cordova officials, however, find this order beneficial to the perpetrators since some of the victims are still living in the same roof with the alleged suspects.
The town officials led by Mayor Mary Therese Cho then pushed for the filing of complaints against the alleged local contacts.
“(The) Municipality of Cordova brought the matter to Iacat 7, which then convened a technical working group (TWG) to pursue the filing of cases against local perpetrators,” read the press release issued by Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Cho. “We choose to protect our children rather than be quiet.”
Magpale agreed with Cho’s stand, saying this may further encourage perpetrators to victimize their children since they will receive compensation.
“This indirectly incentivizes the abuse, which the local perpetrators committed years ago,” read Magpale’s statement issued through a press release.
The rule of law and order in the fight against criminalities is one of the Six-Key Development Agenda of the administration of Gov. Hilario P. Davide and Vice Gov. Magpale.