Iligan City

Iligan cops file charges vs man for alleged online sexual abuse of 29 kids

Merlyn Manos
Iligan cops file charges vs man for alleged online sexual abuse of 29 kids

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Police say the more than two years of public health restrictions made children spend long hours on the internet, making them vulnerable to online predators

ILIGAN, Philippines – Authorities have filed charges against a suspected online predator for allegedly abusing more than two dozen children in Iligan, a city where the rate of such crime has been described as alarming.

Police on Tuesday, October 25, identified the suspect as Rafman Sultan Gara, a 27-year-old man from Marawi City who used the name Agila Gara on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Iligan prosecutors approved the filing of a case against Gara for violation of Republic Act 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act before a regional court.

Iligan police chief Colonel Dominador Estrada said evidence seized from Gara showed that he exploited and abused at least 29 children.

Police arrested Gara during an entrapment in an Iligan inn on Friday, October 21, following weeks of surveillance conducted after parents of two of the victims sought their help. 

Estrada said Gara offered money to children as young as 10 so they would take their clothes off online, and then threatened to spread their nude photos and videos unless they agreed to have sex with him.

A police undercover agent said he created a fake Facebook account, posed as a female child, and befriended Gara and a potential victim online.

The police agent said Gara allegedly made the child send him nude photos and then scheduled to meet her at Alma Residences in Iligan City on Friday. 

Learning about this, police kept an eye on Gara and monitored the child, and then pounced on him inside the inn.

Estrada said police extracted lewd photos and videos of at least 29 different children from Gara’s smartphone.

Gara has been placed under detention at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) prison facility in Iligan.

Iligan City topped the International Justice Mission’s (IJM) list of cities in Northern Mindanao with the highest rate of online exploitation and abuse of children. The city also ranked second nationwide. (READ: FAST FACTS: Why online sexual exploitation of children happens in the Philippines)

Estrada said the more than two years of public health restrictions made children spend long hours on the internet, making them vulnerable to online predators.

“Parents need to keep track of their children’s activities online, guide them, and warn them against befriending just about anyone,” he said. – Rappler.com

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