Trafficker gets 17-year jail term
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - August 3, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  A 25-year-old female trafficker was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted trafficking, possession of child sexual exploitation materials and child abuse.

Last July 29, Jade (real name withheld to protect her victim’s identity) entered into a plea agreement before Judge Christine Muga-Abad of the Regional Trial Court Branch 70 in Lapu-Lapu City.

In a decision rendered through video conferencing, Judge Muga-Abad also ordered the trafficker to pay P600,000 in fine, P500,000 in moral damages, and P100,000 in exemplary damages.

Jade was arrested in Lapu-Lapu City last April 6 this year by members of the PNP Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU), while lockdown was in effect.

She was issued an arrest warrant for sexually abusing her underage female cousin and livestreaming the abuse for a paying online child sex offender, in a case of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).

Considered children at risk, her three children, all under seven years old, were brought to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7.

"Seeking justice for victims of OSEC does not stop even with the ongoing pandemic. The arrest of the trafficker and her eventual conviction happened despite the constraints posed by community quarantines. This is a testament to the tenacity of our partners in the Philippine criminal justice system in our shared goal of putting an end to this disturbing crime threatening our children. May this conviction remind criminals engaging in this crime that the risk of getting caught and spending several years in prison is real and that it’s not worth taking,” said Atty. Lucille Dejito, IJM Cebu Field Office Director, in a press statement.

“Hope is the one thing that, most of the time, keeps us going. This conviction is definitely a ray of hope in this time of pandemic,” said Public Prosecutor Antonio Aseniero.

The trafficker has entered guilty pleas to offenses under Republic Act 9208 as amended by R.A. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act), R.A. 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Law), and R.A. 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act) in relation to R.A. 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act). Her original charges were also violations of these same laws.

Under plea agreements, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offenses, usually before a court trial starts. This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against perpetrators who are often family members or neighbors – a process that may cause re-traumatization.

Jade abused her female 11-year-old cousin from 2016 to 2018. The minor was rescued last  July 31, 2019, following a case referral from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC).

The FBI, who forwarded the referral in March 2019, was then investigating Alan Dennis Wolff, a U.S. based child sex offender, who paid and directed Jade to abuse her underage cousin.

Wolff pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children before a court in Minneapolis, Minnesota in December 2019.

At present, 90 persons have already been convicted in the IJM-supported cases in the Philippines for OSEC since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of 256 OSEC perpetrators and the rescue of 669 victims and children-at-risk across the country. — GAN (FREEMAN)

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