On December 6, 2022, a Regional Trial Court in Pasig City sentenced a female trafficker to life imprisonment and ordered her to pay a fine of P5 million. She was found guilty of Qualified Trafficking for offering her own daughter for sexual abuse over a live video feed in exchange for money from foreign sex offenders online. The court ordered the convicted trafficker to pay her 8-year-old victim P500,000 as moral damages and P100,000 as exemplary damages.
The outcome of the trial is a victory in child protection and the fight against online sexual exploitation, and the perceived impunity that perpetrators think they can hide behind. Assistant State Prosecutor Karla T. Cabel, MNSA, handling prosecutor for the case, said:
“For me, the judgment for conviction is a win not only for the people but, more importantly, for our child-victims. It reminds them that they are important and are worthy of genuine love. They have a bright future ahead and that is never too late for them to start anew. The law and state are always for them, would adamantly fight for them and their rights.”
International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-government organization supporting the Philippine government against the online sexual exploitation of children, collaborated with public prosecutors in this case.
“To witness the sanctity of a home get destroyed just because a mother chose money over the life of her own child is also very hard and painful for justice advocates like us who represent survivors,” said Atty. Kathleen Joy Piccio-Labay, Head of Manila Prosecution Development at IJM. “For a measly amount of money, a little girl was robbed of the innocence, dignity, inner peace and normal life that she deserved by the very person who was supposed to protect and care for her.”
“We know that she would bear emotional scars for the rest of her life but because justice has been served by a court of law, there is real hope that she would finally be able to move on and recover from the complex trauma she has been enduring all these years. This is the reason why it is always an honor and a great privilege for IJM to work alongside government partners and serve the little children,” Atty. Piccio-Labay continued.
On December 7th, the Regional Trial Court of Taguig City found two defendants guilty of Qualified Trafficking and sentenced them to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and pay a fine of P2 million each. They were also ordered to pay the victim a total of P400,000 as moral and exemplary damages. Aside from Qualified Trafficking, the defendants were found guilty of grooming and luring a child under Section 4(h) of R.A. no. 9775 and were sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 9 years, 6 months and 10 days of prision mayor as minimum to 11 years and 2 months of prision mayor as maximum. The minor abused in this case is the biological daughter of one of the traffickers.
Reacting to the court’s decision, handling prosecutor for the case, Taguig Senior Assistant City Prosecutor David Michael Go said:
“We’re elated with the conviction of the principal accused in this case. This is a testament to the fact that no matter how long it takes, we will prosecute these cases to the absolute end to ensure that justice is going to be served. We hope that the victims can finally move on from this ordeal.”
“We applaud the work of our law enforcement agents, social workers and public prosecutors,” said IJM's Atty. Aldrian David, who collaborated with public prosecutors in this case. “As these traffickers are being held accountable, not only is justice served, the Philippines is taking a big step forward in deterring criminals, ending impunity, and protecting children from online sexual exploitation and abuse.”
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IJM’s Program Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children
International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects people in poverty from violence. IJM partners with local authorities in 29 program offices in 17 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power against people who are poor. IJM works with local authorities and governments to rescue and restore survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and help strengthen public justice systems so they can better protect people from violence.
Our 21 years of work in the Philippines led to a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of sex trafficking of children in bars and brothels—reductions ranging from 72%-86% in the cities where we partnered with local authorities. In 2016, IJM fully transitioned our program in the Philippines to combat online sexual exploitation of children, in particular the trafficking of children to create new child sexual abuse materials, including via livestreaming. We have assisted Philippine authorities in more than 308 operations, leading to the rescue of 1037 victims and arrest of 320 suspects of online sexual exploitation of children (first case dates to 2011).
Learn more: osec.IJM.org.