Canadian ‘hired minor for sex’-A A +A
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
MORE than 100 foreigners are monitored in Cebu for alleged sexual exploitation of young women, as the place continues to be one of the top sex tourist destinations in the country, a child protection advocate said.
“They come here for business and pleasure. It’s like a one-stop shop,” said lawyer Noemi Truya-Abarientos of Children’s Legal Bureau.
Her statement came after a French national was arrested by police last Saturday inside a hotel on Archbishop Reyes Ave., Cebu City on suspicion that he sexually exploits young women.
This, as a 59-year-old Canadian national was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 for allegedly paying a 15-year-old girl for sex.
A complaint was filed against Garry Dwayne Kevol for violating Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday.
Supervising Agent Bernard dela Cruz, a lawyer, said they arrested Kevol outside a condominium complex in Barangay Apas, Cebu City last Friday afternoon.
They also rescued Annette (real name withheld), who was with Kevol. A social worker was present during the operation.
“They met through her friends,” said dela Cruz. “They just exchanged text messages.”
Annette said she first met the suspect at a fast-food joint in Barangay Lahug. She later came along with Kevol to his condominium.
She said she was allegedly paid P1,500 by Kevol for sex.
Before the arrest, the NBI received a report that the suspect was also seen by suspected female minors.
Dela Cruz and fellow supervising agent Reynaldo Villordon conducted an investigation and got a copy of the condominium’s security camera footage, which showed that Kevol with suspected minors last June 7.
A few days later, dela Cruz chanced upon four girls who disembarked from a Toyota Altis (YKW-723).
His team approached them and asked if they knew Kevol.
The girls said they knew him and the car they rode was driven by the foreigner.
Special Investigator Florante Gaoiran later informed dela Cruz he saw Kevol with Annette.
The team then planned a rescue operation. When they arrived in the condominium complex, they were prevented by the security personnel to go inside.
They later saw the live feed of the security camera, which showed Kevol with Annette going inside the elevator to the basement.
The agents flagged down Kevol’s car at the parking area and the social worker asked for the age of the girl, who replied she is 15.
Kevol was arrested and was placed inside the NBI’s detention cell.
Abarientos told Sun.Star Cebu the sight of foreigners escorted by young women is common in hotels and resorts and in public places such as malls.
“Garapalan na ba. We want to send a message that our girls here are not for sale,” she said.
She said this happens in Metro Cebu, including Lapu-Lapu City.
Lawyer Joan Dymphna Saniel-Amit, executive director of CLB, said this poverty-related social issue could be traced to the deterioration of Filipino values and lack of parental guidance.
“Some are also fascinated with foreigners,” she said.
To address this problem, Amit said the government could start by being strict in allowing foreigners to enter the country.
“Foreign nationals who are sex offenders or have criminal records must be monitored. We must have a list of them,” she said.
Quoting a 2006 report of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (Ecpat), Amit said Cebu is highly affected by all forms of sexual exploitation of children.
The report said all taxi drivers surveyed in Cebu, a prime tourist destination in Philippines, responded that they have encountered foreign tourist accompanied by a minor.
The CLB and Anti-Cybercrime Group of Central Visayas will file today complaints of child abuse and qualified trafficking against 42-year-old John (not his real name).
Amit believed their case against John is strong and will prosper because of the testimonies of the two rescued girls and informants. They also recovered evidence inside the John’s room.
Senior Insp. Michael Vertudazo, head of ACG 7, said the forensic examination of the gadgets recovered inside John’s hotel room will take at least 45 days to complete.
Louis Thevenin of French Consulate visited John yesterday to check his condition and will reportedly provide legal assistance to him.
His name is withheld as provided under the confidentiality provision of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
Vertudazo said John’s arrest came after he was seen bringing young women in his room on several occasions.
John had been staying in the hotel for several days after he arrived last June 12. He also visited Cebu last Feb. but left last March.
Vertudazo said John reportedly worked as a consultant of a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company based in Singapore.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 18, 2013.