ANGELES, Philippines – A regional trial court here has imposed a 32-year imprisonment on a couple from the island province of Bohol for the online sexual abuse of their 3-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old girl who had been under their custody for several years.
The International Justice Mission, a global anti-slavery organization, sent Rappler a copy of the court's May 23 decision that found the 31-year-old woman and 29-year-old man guilty in two cases of violating Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.
In a separate order on May 30, Judge Angelica Paras Quiambao of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 59 also ordered the immediate transfer of the convicted couple to the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City and the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, respectively.
For coercing a child to perform pornographic act in violation of section 4, paragraph (a) of the law, the court ordered each of the convicted persons to serve 20 years imprisonment and pay P2 million.
The court also imposed a sentence of 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to each of the accused for violating section 4, paragraph (h) which prohibits "a parent, legal guardian, or person having custody or control of a child to knowingly permit the child to engage, participate, or assist in any form of child pornography."
Aside from the fines, the two were ordered to jointly pay P150,000 in moral and exemplary damages to the minor girl who had been under their custody since she was 2 years old.
The girl, a Grade 4 student, had been living with her supposed guardians in an apartment in nearby Mabalacat City while her parents and sibling were in Bohol.
Operatives of the Philippine National Police's Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) and Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) led the entrapment operation against the couple on November 16, 2017, after receiving information and referral from the Swedish police through the Bangkok-based Nordic Police and Customs Cooperation Liaison Office, a cooperation office of the 5 Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
A WCPC information technologist posed as a customer and in several instances was able to chat online with the accused, including one time when the two young girls were presented to him via Skype video chat. He was promised a "surprise" performance from the girls.
The undercover police officer, who pretended to be an American, was also able to ascertain the identities and residence of the couple by sending money as gifts through money transfer services and a package to the apartment.
On the day of the sting operation, policemen carrying a search warrant issued by the RTC Branch 60 here proceeded to the target apartment in Barangay Dau, Mabalacat City, while the undercover police officer was chatting with the accused who were asking P5,000 for each online sexual show.
The couple were arrested and brought to the WCPC office in Camp Crame while the girls were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In a sworn affidavit, the 9-year-old victim said her guardians made her undress in front of the computer and show her genitals to foreigners on the screen who were also naked and playing with their sex organs.
"Wala po akong magawa. Sumusunod na lang po ako sa utos nila. 'Yung mga kapitbahay namin doon sa bandang dulo ang bahay may apat na bata na ganoon din ang ipinapagawa,” she said, adding that she needed to comply with her guardians' wishes so they would have money to buy milk, and because they were the ones sending her to school.
(I couldn't do anything. I was just following their orders. Our neighbors in another house also made 4 children do the same thing.)
When she testified in a hearing, the victim also disclosed that the couple scolded or spanked her whenever she refused to do what she was asked to perform.
"Child pornography is a detestable act that every society must seek to eliminate. The offenses involve sexual gratification at the expense of children, the supposed future shapers of our country. These offenses become worse when committed by parents, guardians, and custodians of the victims, who are annihilating their very own blood. The court cannot be swayed by emotions as the rule of law must always be upheld. Indeed, facts decide cases," the court said in a 60-page decision.
“As the accused are the parents of victim BBB, and the uncle and aunt of victim AAA, pursuant to Section 16 of RA No. 9775, the penalties to be imposed shall be in their maximum duration," Quiambao added. – Rappler.com