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Authorities Conduct Operations to End the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) Amid Lockdown - Rescuing 3 minors, 6 days before the world celebrates Mother's Day

JOINT PRESS RELEASE May 5, 2020 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

– Yesterday / On 4 May, the Philippine National PoliceWomen and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) and the National Bureau of Investigation AntiHuman Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) conducted a joint operation as a result of their partnership in the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC).

The Caloocan City operation arrested a 41-year-old female suspect and ensured the safety of three children who were allegedly forced to perform sexual acts on webcam for paying customers, referred to as online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). While securing the area, operatives found evidence on the scene, including a mobile phone, desktop computer, webcam and cash together with remittance receipts.

Elements of PNP WCPC Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATIPD), led by PCOL Maria Sheila T. Portento under the overall supervision of PBGEN Alessandro C. Abella, joined with NBI-AHTRAD, under the supervision of Atty. Janet Francisco, in coordination with the Caloocan City Social Welfare Department and Caloocan City Police Station.

“It is a great honor to serve in a team that carries out its sworn duty to protect the most vulnerable children from online sexual exploitation no matter what challenges current global conditions bring. Let this be a testament that law enforcers will not stop to pursue justice even through this quarantine period,” said PBGEN Alessandro Abella referring to the joint efforts of the team that carried out the arrest under unfavorable conditions.

“As a mother, I could not quite comprehend why she (referring to suspect) would do this act to her own children. Despite this, I would like to assure the public that the children rescued will no longer be abused. This just shows that criminally minded individuals will do whatever it takes to exploit minors for profit. But we as law enforcers will also do whatever it takes to apprehend erring individuals.” said Atty. Janet Francisco.

“For me this is an early Mother’s Day present that money cannot buy. Despite the belief of some individuals that they can sell their children online for a profit, I still believe that there are other parents that hold true to their morals not to result in this form of criminality,” said PCOL Sheila Portento.

This operation started as a referral from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that was routed through the PICACC. The PICACC, a model for an enhanced global response against OSEC, is a cooperation among local and international law enforcement, namely the PNP-WCPC, the NBI-AHTRAD, the AFP, and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA); in partnership with non-government organization, International Justice Mission (IJM).

AFP Detective Sergeant Graeme Marshall, the AFP Liaison Officer in Manila, stated, “This arrest in the Philippines, resulting from an Australian referral, demonstrates the close working relationships between the Australian Federal Police, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, as well as all our international partners who work to ensure the protection of children around the world. International partnerships are critical to our combined efforts to protect children no matter where they live. The AFP and its international partners are working tirelessly to target anyone who seeks to exploit children, and we are not distracted by the demands of the COVID pandemic.”

David Cater, UK NCA Regional Manager said, “This operation is another great example of inter-agency law enforcement collaboration in action despite the quarantine measures in place. Today, 3 more children will no longer be subjected to online abuse having been saved from online sexual exploitation. The National Crime Agency is proud to be supporting all our partners in the Philippines in their efforts to combat child abuse.”

The rescued victims, a 13-year-old boy and two girls ages 14 and 5, are now receiving trauma-informed aftercare services. All three minors rescued were the children of the arrested suspect.

“It is such a comfort to know that amidst the lockdowns, our law enforcement partners are actively collaborating with each other to achieve the common goal to end OSEC. This operation will leave a lasting memory that despite certain conditions and challenges, we will go above and beyond the call of duty to rescue children from this horrific crime.” – Atty. Samson Inocencio, National Director of International Justice Mission Philippines.

OSEC is a crime that violates the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act (RA) 9208 (as amended by RA 10364), which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million pesos. Typical OSEC offenses also violate RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012), RA 9775
(Anti‐Child Pornography Act of 2009) and RA 7610 (Child Abuse Law).

One may report a suspected case of OSEC by texting ENDOSEC (space) (incident details) to 7444-64 for Smart network subscribers; or by calling the IACAT 1343 Action line; or directly connecting with WCPC at (032) 410-8483 for Visayas, and 0917-180-6037 or 0928-604-6425 for Mindanao.

Or you may call the NBI trunkline at 02 85238231 or the NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division – 02 85219208 (direct line)- 02 85238231 (local 3497) to report cases of OSEC.

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