In a landmark month for the fight against online sexual exploitation of children, four persons were convicted in Jan. 2023, including two female traffickers who were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Courts in the Philippine's regions of Pateros, Manila and Bacoor City, Cavite, handed down the verdicts in different cases, which stemmed from two separate operations, in 2019 and 2021.
On Jan. 25 2023, the Bacoor City Regional Trial Court Branch 111 found a mother and her adult daughter guilty of qualified trafficking and sentenced each of them to life imprisonment. The court also ordered each of them to pay 2 million (PHP) in fines and 600,000 (PHP) in restitution damages to one complainant. Both traffickers were arrested in Nov. 2019 in an operation against online sexual exploitation.
Both traffickers also received a sentence ranging from 20 years to 40 years for violating the Anti-Child Pornography Act.
For this conviction, the court ordered each to pay 2 million (PHP) in fines and 600,000 (PHP) in damages to one complainant.
On Jan. 23 2023, the Pateros Regional Trial Court Branch 262, sentenced two persons to 15 years and six months in prison after they pleaded guilty to attempted trafficking in persons and attempt to cause a child physical harm. Each of them was ordered to pay a total fine of 600,000 (PHP) and to undergo psychological counselling or psychiatric treatment, as required by the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act.
“I am quite happy about the outcome of this case. I’m grateful that the perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions and that the children will no longer suffer from their abusers. They can now begin their journey toward healing and restoration knowing that justice has been served,” said IJM Prosecution Development Lead Lawyer Raena Marie P. Asistores.
She also noted that the mandatory psychological counselling or psychiatric treatment showed the progressive nature of the Philippine justice system in caring for the mental well-being of individuals who have been convicted of crimes under the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act.
She said: “We believe that the implementation of the judge of the requirement of psychological counselling or psychiatric treatment under the Anti-VAWC Act is another measure that would be very instrumental in the healing of all the parties. Through this, the perpetrators may truly understand the effects of their offence, and be rehabilitated and restored, and their risk of being repeat offenders may be lowered.”
Authorities arrested the two convicted perpetrators during an operation in Pateros March 4, 2021
which also resulted in the rescue of two female minors who were the biological daughters of one of the suspects.
Lawyer Kathleen Joy Piccio, Head of IJM Manila Prosecution Development, said: “By entering into a plea agreement, the child victims are spared from further trauma. It is a testament to child friendly prosecution and swift justice for the children who were abused as they no longer have to relive their painful experiences in court, face their perpetrators, and endure the length of a full trial.”
To date, IJM has supported Philippine authorities in the conviction of more than 170 people for offences related to the online sexual exploitation of children. IJM has also supported more than 300 operations, leading to the rescue of more than 1,000 victims.