2 women convicted for selling girls' lewd photos to 'predators'

PAMPANGA, Philippines – They advertised nude photographs of underage girls to "predators" living in the United States. One of their 3 young victims was as young as 8 years old when the photos were sold.

On September 28, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City sentenced two Filipino women to 15 years imprisonment and slapped them with a P500,000 fine for exploiting 3 underage girls in Angeles City.

RTC Branch 61 Judge Bernardita Gabitan-Erum said Lyan Tandeg and Shellina Nisperos were “guilty beyond reasonable doubt for Attempted Trafficking in Persons” under Section 4-A of Republic Act 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

Both opted to enter a plea of guilty to downgrade their offense from actual trafficking.

"Trafficking in persons" carries up to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of P1 million to P2 million, while "attempted trafficking in persons" is punishable only with 15 years imprisonment and P500,000 to P1 million fine. 

The court also ordered Tandeg and Nisperos to give each of the 3 minors P1,000 monthly in civil damages starting September 2016 until September 2031.

Lawyers' initiative

The case was filed by lawyers of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a Washington D.C.-based global non-governmental organization fighting modern-day slavery and violence in developing countries.  

Two of the victims are 11 years old while the third one is only 8 years old, according to a press release sent by IJM-Philippines. They are now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Pampanga.

“The convicts, who were both producing child pornographic materials and pimping the girls, were arrested during a rescue operation last November 2015 by the National Bureau of Investigation-Cybercrime Division (NBI-CD). This resulted from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 'Operation Swift Traveler,' which passed information on the criminal activities of the convicts to the NBI-CD. The investigation revealed that convicts have been offering each of the minors for sexual services to customers outside the country in the amount of Php 3,000,” the IJM-Philippines said.

IJM-Philippines said Tandeg and Nisperos “conducted their illicit enterprise by advertising the minors’ nude and sexually explicit photos and selling the same to sexual predators living in the United States.”

“The minors victimized in this case were invited to go to a hotel and were given P 300-500 to pose for lewd photographs. They were scared that they would never be returned to their families if they did not comply with their abusers,” it added. 

A lawyer from IJM-Philippines told Rappler that Tandeg is 28 years old, while Nisperos is younger. The lawyer added that Nisperos even had 2 children, one of whom was barely a year old, when she was arrested by NBI agents in 2015.

Judge Gabitan-Erum said in her order that Tandeg and Nisperos had agreed to pay for whatever medical expenses the 3 minors may incur in relation to the legal case “to ensure that the private complainants (3 girls) will be in good mental and psychological health.” – Rappler.com