ILOILO CITY – Authorities have arrested a Filipina woman and an Australian national after police caught the Filipina sending sexually explicit videos and photos of young girls, online, in exchange for money.
Around 11 a.m. on September 15th, operatives from the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC)–Visayas Field Unit (VFU) arrested Gladys Degala, 21, and John Loffler, 69, during an arrest operation at a house Loffler rented in an upscale subdivision in the municipality of Pavia, Iloilo Province. Police were also armed with a valid search warrant issued by the Honorable Judge Ramon Daomilas of the Cybercrime Court.
Intelligence gathered by WCPC-VFU during an approximately two-month investigation period revealed that Degala, a Philippine national, and Loffler, an Australian national, allegedly operated an illicit business of transmitting dozens of sexually explicit videos and images of young Filipino children in exchange for money from individuals online. Degala reportedly demanded 3,000 Philippine Pesos, equivalent to $60 U.S. Dollars, for sexually explicit photos of victims as young 12 years old.
According to police, during the investigation Degala again sent sexually explicit images of a 12-year-old girl and a sexually explicit video involving a 15-year-old girl. The 12- and 15-year-old girls are victims of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC), a crime also known as cybersex trafficking. OSEC victims are often forced to preform sexually explicit acts in front of a camera—sometimes in a live-stream video—for paying customers residing, often times, on the other side of the world.
Both suspects are now detained at the Pavia Municipal Police Station.
Police and Iloilo Provincial social workers are still looking for the victims as of this writing. During the operation, authorities seized electronics, including storage devices, believed to have been used by the suspects.
IJM Cebu Field Office Director Atty. John Tanagho commended the police for the successful anti-OSEC operation.
“Some individuals think they can get away with exploiting Filipino children and selling sexually explicit materials of children online. Maybe to them the Filipino child is not worthy of respect and dignity, but simply a means to make easy money. But law enforcement in the Philippines is relentlessly pursuing investigations against online traffickers and rescuing their victims as quickly as possible. And thanks to the diligent coordinated efforts of six (6) government agencies, led by the PNP Women and Children Protection Center, both suspects arrested today in Ilo-Ilo are now behind bars while police ready serious criminal charges. This sends the message to foreigners and Filipinos alike—you cannot sexually exploit Filipino children online and get away with it. Eventually, the law will catch you and you’ll spend the rest of your life in prison where you can never again hurt another child,” Tanagho said.
WCPC Visayas Chief Romeo Perigo said, “the operation today in Iloilo province was in a subdivision with strict security provisions, with two gates manned by security guards numbering 84 personnel spread around the subdivision. The area is very quiet. Nobody in the neighbourhood thinks cybercrimes are being committed. But this morning two suspects were caught committing illegal activity by joint elements of Ilo-Ilo Provincial Police Office, WCPC VFU, IJM, IACAT-6, and Provincial DSWD. So let us be vigilant. Stand up and fight with us against crimes victimizing women and children. Report cybercrimes to the nearest police station. Our campaign against crime will only succeed with your help.”
The operations were supported by the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group Region 7, Iloilo Provincial Police Office Women and Children’s Protection Desk’s SWAT unit, Interagency Council Against Trafficking Region 6 and the Iloilo Provincial Social Welfare Office.
As of July 31, 2018, IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in 106 operations leading to the arrest of 151 traffickers and the rescue of 365 victims. More than 40 of the perpetrators have already been convicted for trafficking children into online sexual exploitation in the Philippines.
About International Justice Mission Canada:
International Justice Mission Canada is part of a global organization that protects the poor from violence. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. www.IJM.ca
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