Close coordination and sharing of information between agencies of the Philippines (RP) and the United States (US) have led to the successful busting of a cybersex syndicate based in Central Luzon.
The raid conducted by agencies under the auspices of Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) led to the arrest of three (3) suspects and the rescue of six (6) victims, including three (3) minors aged 15, 16 and 17, in a house used as a cybersex den in Brgy Malabanias, Angeles City.
Suspects Maybel Oranga, Bryan Sagmit and Christian Chameco were arrested inside the house located in #16B Burgos St., Plaridel 1. Live-in partners Oranga and Sagmit actually lived at the property and were in full control and custody of the victims who were subjected to sexual exploitation doing online lewd shows to paying website subscribers. They were immediately brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office inside Clark Field, Angeles City.
Upon the request of IACAT and the International Justice Mission (IJM)—IACAT’s non-governmental (NGO) member representing the children sector–, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) extended technical support in pinning down the online activities of the syndicate preying on women and children.
The operation was conducted last month by a composite team from the National Inter-Agency Task Force Against Trafficking (NIATFAT), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – Anti-Transnational Crime Division (PNP CIDG-ATCD), the Pampanga CIDG, the Angeles City Police and members of the IJM under the overall supervision of Police Senior Superintendent Alex Botes Sintin, Chief of ATCD.
The arrest was pursuant to a search warrant obtained by the group issued by Judge Sita Jose Clemente of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Malolos, Bulacan.
With minors among the victims, a case of Qualified Trafficking was filed before the Angeles City Prosecutor’s Office against the suspects specifically for violation of Section 4 in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003), as amended by the Republic Act 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012) with the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and fine of as high as P5 Million.
The six female victims, all from far-flung provinces in the Visayas, initially were hesitant to cooperate but later on divulged their ordeal before the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). They were brought to a DSWD facility temporary shelter, guidance and counselling.
Meanwhile, IACAT chairperson and DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima hailed the inter-country and inter-agency cooperation that netted the human traffickers. “Trafficking is a crime against humanity and all effort and cooperation are needed to combat this scourge,” De Lima said as she added “the inter-government cooperation further reinforced the RP-US alliance in combatting the menace of modern day slavery.”
To date, the IACAT has successfully prosecuted and convicted 129 human traffickers since its inception in 2005 with most convictions happening the past three years.
The raid also yielded items used for sexual exploitation and pornography through the internet such as computer sets, webcams, cameras, sex toys, notebooks containing list of earnings and contributions as well as proofs of payment through money transfer.
“The success of this operation serves as a testament of IACAT’s commitment to interagency collaborations and international cooperation especially in our efforts to rescue victims from abuse and haul human traffickers into court.” De Lima concluded. 30