2-year-old victim of online sex trafficking rescued in Iligan

MANILA, Philippines – A joint operation of anti-trafficking authorities rescued from an online sex den in Iligan City 4 minors being asked to offer live-streaming sex shows. The youngest was aged 2.

Suspects were caught in the act live-streaming sex abuse of Filipino children ages 2, 6, 8, and 13, at a home in the village of Saray in Iligan City on Tuesday, May 30.

Arrested were 43-year-old Josejyn Binuya, 25-year-old Mark Kevin Ragas, Ragas' live-in partner 22-year-old Samsodin Lantingan, 18-year-old Jholly Magsayo, and 15-year-old Kessy Magsayo.

"One of the rescued minors is the daughter of one suspect," said the International Justice Mission (IJM) in a statement. (READ: Mandaue mother arrested for pimping daughter online)

The suspects face charges of human trafficking, child pornography, child abuse, and cybercrime.

The joint rescue operation was conducted on Thursday, June 1, by the Police's Women and Children Protection Center, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (RIACAT), and IJM.

"In light of what is happening now in Mindanao, our local law enforcement partners still combat online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) with their lives on the line," said IJM national director Samson Inocencio.

According to IJM, there is an alarming rise of online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines. Citing data from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which conducts its own investigation into Americans engaging in sex trafficking, and which sometimes traces the IP address of the source to the Philippines, there are 750,000 online predators at any given moment in the world.

A good number of the predators' victims, according to IJM, are Filipino children. (READ: Human trafficking 101: What trafficking is all about)

From 2011 to 2017, IJM has rescued 201 victims of sexual exploitation of children, 52% of whom are younger than 12 years old, 16% are boys, 40.4% belong to sibling groups, and a worrisome 70.2% involve their own parents, relatives, or close family friends.

For IJM, more than the entrapment operations and rescues of victims, there is a need for more effective prosecution of these cases.

The US recently gave $3.5 million in aid to the Philippines to combat child trafficking. On top of the priorities is improve the mechanism of prosecuting cases.

IJM also conducted training on how to use the internet to investigate and ultimately catch suspects. (READ: Child pimp and molester sentenced to life in prison)

"It was a big help for the police because we learned best practices on online surveillance, gathering pieces of evidence online, OSEC investigative techniques, and the efficient use of a tactical plan," case investigator SPO1 Robert Sorilla said. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

image