Cordova tries to stop cybersex fund

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CEBU -- Cordova will now require money transfer companies to report suspicious transactions, as part of the efforts to end cyber pornography operations in the town.

In a press conference Tuesday, Cordova Councilor Angeles Gairanod said she and other officials have been hard at work in trying to curb cybersex dens that have sullied the town’s reputation.

An official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Central Visayas Region revealed that the number of cyber pornography victims has reached at least 61, many of them minors.


But a Capitol official assured that Cebu Province has been working with the United States Government since 2011 to curb child trafficking.

“We have been very active here in Cebu (against human trafficking),” said Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, co-chair of the Provincial Women’s Commission.

Magpale responded to news reports that British police are working with American and Australian authorities to break a pedophile ring in the Philippines that has been streaming online live scenes of child abuse.

Those found abusing children through cybersex operations are charged with human trafficking under Republic Act 10364.

Magpale said that because of a joint effort, the country’s classification in terms of human trafficking has improved from tier 2.5 to tier 2.

US connection

She pointed out that local courts have convicted some perpetrators of human trafficking. No such conviction has been achieved in a cybersex case.

But with the help of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Magpale said they were able to extract incriminating evidences stored in the central processing units of some pedophiles’ computers.

“Gi-master na namo, how to trace them (cybersex criminals),” said Magpale. She recalled how US authorities and her office traced a criminal from Delaware in the USA through a popular web portal and a child victim in Sibonga.

The American was convicted. Magpale said her office extended help to the child through her grandmother.

During the weekly press conference of the Association of Government Information Officers (AGIO) on Tuesday, Councilor Gairanod said that she and fellow councilors had approved an ordinance that requires all of the town’s money transfer businesses to report their customers who are involved in suspicious transactions.

The Cordova council, led by Vice Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, approved the ordinance earlier this month.

Officials tackle child pornography in Cordova, Cebu
Councilor Angeles Gairanod (right) of Cordova, Cebu speaks about the child pornography issue in her town in a forum at the Philippine Information Agency. With her are DepEd Division Coordinator Glenna Plarisan (left) and DSWD Social Welfare Officer Edna Regudo. (Photo by Arni Aclao of Sun.Star Cebu)

Money transfers

Gairanod said that based on the ordinance, an owner of a money transfer business who refuses to report any suspicious customers will be fined P2,500 (minimum) or face charges from the municipal government (maximum).

Cordova has five establishments that provide money transfer services, she added.

Gairanod added that she plans to talk to Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy on the idea of promoting the ordinance to other local government units, such as Lapu-Lapu City, in order to prevent cyber crime operators from gathering resources.

However, Gairanod admitted that while they have put up the legal measure to try to stop cyber pornography operations, some of those involved will still find ways to continue to their crimes by transferring their transactions outside town.

“Maro gyud ni sila. Mangita gyud sila ug paagi para makaginansya sila (They are cunning and look for ways to make money),” she added.

Edna Regado of the DSWD-Central Visayas revealed that about 61 cases related to cyber porn were recorded in their office, of which 20 are from Cebu City, 26 are from Cordova town and 15 from Bohol.

In Cordova, three barangays -- Ibabao, Cogon and San Miguel -- allegedly had cybersex dens.

A 3-year-old

Out of the 61 cases, about 47 minors were rescued during the operations, in which the youngest was a three-year-old while the oldest was 23 years old.

Gairanod said the cybersex operations were brought to light because of their intense activities to curb it.

While the town has been stigmatized over the crimes committed there, but it only goes to show that the Cordova municipal government is working hard to curb it, Gairanod added.

Aside from the ordinance, Gairanod also revealed that the municipal government has coordinated with various sectors in their town to help curb cybersex operations.

The Municipal Government is even coordinating with the local Church in their campaign.

The Children’s Right Protection Unit is also empowering and informing children in their town to avoid getting involved in such crimes.

The lack of livelihood, Gairanod said, is no longer an issue when it comes to stopping illegal cybersex operations in their town.

“It’s more of a question of values,” he said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 29, 2014.

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