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Cebu News

PRO-7 works with FBI to stop pedophiles

Mae Clydyl L. Avila - The Freeman
PRO-7 works with FBI to stop pedophiles
"We will share information, we will share operations para ma-stop na," PRO-7 Director Debold Sinas said.
Freeman Photo

CEBU, Philippines — The Police Regional Office - 7 will work with law enforcers in the United States to stop pedophiles in the country, Cebu included, whose number an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has described as “astronomical and scary”.

A pedophile is a person who is attracted to children sexually.

"We will share information, we will share operations para ma-stop na," PRO-7 Director Debold Sinas said.

He said they will cross-check their own records with that of the FBI.

"With that finding sa FBI, we will study our statistics," Sinas said.

In a report by GMA 7’s 24 Oras, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US has monitored the presence of pedophiles in the country and said the Philippines has become a major child trafficking hotspot.

FBI Special Agent Michael van Aelstyn was quoted as saying the percentage of pedophiles here is "astronomical and scary".

Aelstyn explained that child trafficking can take place even outside homes or sex dens, as there are internet cafes that are willing to turn a blind eye for a hefty price.

"Those I-cafes are predominant places where we have child exploitation occurring, because again, it's based on the supply and demand. The person who owns the I-cafes maybe would be willing to shut it down if the right amount of money is paid to them, so they can do whatever they need to do inside those I-cafes," Aelstyn was quoted in the GMA report.

Records of the Philippine National Police reportedly point to Cebu, Taguig City, Iligan City, Pampanga, and Tarlac as the major trafficking hotspots in the country.

Republic Act 10364 or The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 describes trafficking in persons as “the recruitment, obtaining, hiring, providing, offering, transportation, transfer, maintaining, harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim's consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat, or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs.”

"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, adoption or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation or when the adoption is induced by any form of consideration for exploitative purposes shall also be considered as 'trafficking in persons' even if it does not involve any of the means set forth in the preceding paragraph,” the law states further.

Cases

Police Col. Romeo Perigo, chief of the Women's and Children's Protection Center-7, said Cebu may not necessarily be considered a hotspot for child trafficking, albeit there are cases here.

"Daghan man kaayo ta police-led operations diri, especially when it comes to online sexual exploitation of children. That may have been one of the factors for them to say, but for us, dili hotspot ang Cebu (The police-led operations against online sexual exploitation of children may have been what made them say Cebu is a hotspot, but for us, Cebu isn’t one still)," Perigo said.

WCPC records show that 37 minors were rescued in 2018. As of February 23 this year, nine have been rescued.

The International Justice Mission also said that "to accurately determine that the Philippines is a global hotspot it requires accurate measurement of data".

"We are hesitant to say that the scale of the problem is increasing as these numbers could also be an indication this crime type is getting well-known," reads an IJM statement.

IJM has supported law enforcers in the country since 2011 and helped in 131 operations that resulted to the rescue of 450 victims and arrest of 191 suspects and 55 perpetrators.

In 2018, an American suspected of being a pedophile was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Manila where he was about to meet several minors.

According to a report by the Philippine Star, it was no less than the US Homeland Security that alerted the PNP about Bounab who was supposed to come from Incheon, South Korea to meet with several minors for sex.

At NAIA, Bounab was supposed to meet with a 17-year-old girl from Caloocan City whom he first met through the internet.

In 2017, the National Bureau of Investigation in Cebu arrested in Malapascua Island Liezyl Margallo, tagged as one of the country’s notorious child traffickers.

At the time she was arrested in January, Margallo had 16 outstanding warrants of arrest for several counts of human trafficking violations.

Margallo, who went in hiding since 2015, allegedly helped her former live-in partner, Australian "pedophile" Peter Gerard Scully, to operate an international cyber-pornography trade.

They allegedly abused and tortured 11 children sexually, including a girl who was just only 18 months old.  The couple allegedly also killed a 12-year-old girl, while video-taping the gruesome scenes.

The NBI said the couple fed a global market with pedophilic videos, charging up to $10,000 for footage of children being tortured and abused by other minor victims.

Scully, meanwhile, was arrested in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. (FREEMAN) 

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