Philippines

    Rising Incidents of Online Child Sex Exploitation Alarm PNP

    The Philippine National Police has voiced alarm over rising incidents of online child sexual exploitation in the country following the arrest of two men allegedly involved in arranging the encounters via the internet.

    Senior Supt. Villamor Tuliao, PNP Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) anti-trafficking in persons division chief, sought the public’s help to put a stop to the crime in a press conference on Friday.

    “Online sex exploitation of children is an emerging threat against our children so we consider it as a serious crime,” Tuliao said.

    Most vulnerable

    He said that it was alarming because it was a crime targeting children “who are the most vulnerable” in the society.

    “We have to address this and the PNP and the PNP-WCPC are not [taking] this sitting down,” Tuliao said, adding that his office had intensified operations against groups engaged in such illegal activities, which resulted in the recent arrest of suspects Jamil Santiago and Anthony Mabansag.

    He said that Santiago and Mabansag were nabbed on Oct. 15 after they were allegedly about to sell a 17-year-old girl for sex in exchange for P5,000 ($100) to a Filipino client in Manila.

    Tuliao said that prior to the suspects’ arrest, they had been engaged in selling child pornography online, including live sex shows, for several years.

    The US Federal Bureau of Investigation tipped off the PNP in July on the duo’s activities after their link to an arrested American sex offender was detected.

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    The Hanging Fate of OFWs Buried in Debt

    OFW applicants inside POEA on August 29, 2017

    DOHA, Qatar/MANILA, Philippines – Greg* first started receiving threats from collectors of his lending agency 4 months after he returned to the Philippines from Qatar last December 2015.

    Binantaan kami na kung hindi daw kami magbabayad ng loan ay ipapapublish daw ang mga mukha at pangalan namin sa Facebook, TV, at diyaryo para ikahiya kami ng aming mga anak at pamilya,” Greg said. He added, “Sabi niya (kolektor) na masama raw ang ugali namin dahil hindi kami marunong magbayad ng utang at ipinadala rin nila ito sa lahat ng taong inilista namin bilang character reference noong nag-apply kami ng loan.

    (They threatened to post our names and faces on Facebook, TV, and newspapers so we would be humiliated in front of our children and relatives if we did not pay. The collector said we were bad people because we didn’t know how to pay loans and told this to all the people we placed as character references when we applied for a loan.)

    Working as a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Doha, Greg is one of the 6,000 Filipinos who leave daily for work overseas.

    Had Greg gotten his way, he would have chosen to stay in Qatar. Despite months’ worth of delayed wagescoupled with verbal and emotional abuse in his workplace – all came second to a fact: he had a loan to pay.

    Tiniis kong lahat ang ginagawa sa akin dahil alam kong may obligasyon akong binabayaran sa lending,” Greg said in an affidavit. (I endured everything because I knew that I had an obligation to pay back my loan.)

    With his salary withheld for months, Greg could not resign to look for another job. Under the kafalasystem, he would have to secure the permission of his employer before starting an application for other work.

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    Things to know about illegal recruitment in the Philippines

    Here’s how OFWs can spot and avoid illegal recruitment activity

    From Rappler:

    MANILA, Philippines – An estimated 6,000 Filipinos leave to work overseas every single day – fathers, mothers, siblings, or even an entire family. (INFOGRAPHIC: Getting to know the OFWs)

    To secure a job overseas, OFWs and their families spend large amounts of time and money to pay for fees, paperwork, as well as trips to and from hometowns and cities. But in many instances, prospective workers can be scammed by illegal recruitment schemes.

    According to government data, migrant workers continue to be victims of illegal recruitment despite laws against it. A total of 1,592 illegal recruitment cases were reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016. But this excludes cases that have either been dropped or not reported at all.
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    Pampanga court dismisses sex trafficking case vs Japanese tourist

    The judge says the court had no other recourse but to exonerate Michihiro Suzumura, as the information dated July 28 by Assistant City Prosecutor Mark Oliver Sison fails to establish the existence of probable cause against Suzumura in violating Republic Act 9208

    By Jun A. Malig, Rappler

    September 28, 2017

     

    ANGELES CITY, Philippines – The regional trial court here dismissed 5 cases filed against a Japanese tourist who was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a hotel in the tourist district of Balibago village last July 21.

    Judge Maria Angelica Paras-Quiambao of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 59 also ordered the commander of Police Station 4 here to release Michihiro Suzumura, 43, from detention in her order dated September 5, 2017.

    The judge said the court had no other recourse but to exonerate Suzumura, as the information dated July 28 by Assistant City Prosecutor Mark Oliver Sison failed to establish the existence of probable cause against the Japanese tourist in violating Republic Act 9208 (The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).

    Judge Quiambao said that on August 7, the court directed Sison to submit additional evidence to establish the acts committed by Suzumura as alleged in the assistant city prosecutor’s information dated July 28.

    “Should there be no additional pieces of evidence available, Assistant City Prosecutor Sison was directed to file an amended information which will conform with the evidence submitted, within five days from receipt of said Order,” the judge added.

    Sison initially failed to comply with the court’s directive but on August 17, he was given a 5-day extension – until August 22 – to submit what the court required from him.

    “The order dated August 7, 2017 bears warning on the dismissal of the case as to accused Michihiro Suzumura should Angeles City Prosecutor Sison fail to comply therewith… To this day, Assistant City Prosecutor Sison has not taken action on the said Order,” Judge Quimbao said in her order dismissing the case against the Japanese man.

    Rappler sent text messages to Sison’s mobile phones to get his comments but he has not responded as of filing.

    Sison filed 5 criminal cases (no. 02318 to 02322) against Suzumura for trafficking in persons with no bail recommended. The Japanese was charged along with 4 Filipino females, including a 17-year-old, and 3 John Does – all suspected of pimping minors.

    In one of the pieces of information prepared by Sison against Suzumura and his co-accused on July 28, it said that one of the femal suspects approached a 14-year-old girl last July 14, offering her a job.

    At around 1:00 p.m. on July 21, the suspect called the victim and brought her to 1st Avenue Hotel in Balibago, Angeles City.

    In the hotel, the victim-complainant alleged Suzumura paid P500 to the suspected female pimp, then had sex with the young girl and gave her P1,000. But the older sister of the victim, who was waiting outside the room, got angry after learning about what had happened to her sibling and decided to seek the authority’s help for the arrest of the Japanese tourist.

    While Suzumura was being questioned at the Police Station 4, Sison said the former’s phone received several text messages offering him minors for sex. This prompted policemen to form a team and plan an operation that resulted in the arrest of 3 suspected female pimps.

    The police report said two of the apprehended suspected pimps were aged 18 while the third one was 21 years old.

    When the court directed the Local Civil Registrar of Angeles City on August 8 to submit copies of the birth certificates of the two suspected 18-year-old pimps, it was found out that one of them was a minor and was brought to the social welfare and development office.

    The court also cited its observation that 3 minor complainants – aged 13, 15, and 17 – stated that they were recruited by the 3 female suspects to work as prostitutes to foreign tourists to earn money. But though they were brought to the 1st Avenue Hotel by the suspects, they neither met Suzumura nor had sex with him.

    While the judge dismissed the cases against Michihiro Suzumura, the cases against his co-accused – May Ann Abudo, Jessica Dimarucut, and a minor female described as child-in-conflict-with-the-law – remains pending with the court.

    Arraignment and pre-trial sessions are set for October 17 and 26. – Rappler.com

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    Clerical abuse of children has to be addressed

    Arrest of priest shows everyone has to answer for their behavior no matter what station they hold in life

    From UCANews:

    Monsignor Arnel Lagarejos, a Filipino priest, has been arrested by authorities for allegedly escorting a minor to a hotel in a suburb of Manila. (Photo by Noli Yamsuan)

    The arrest of a Filipino Catholic priest accused of trafficking a 13-year-old minor is highly unusual.

    He has been charged with violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of the Philippines.

    Most cases of alleged clerical child abuse go unreported or are covered up in the Philippines. In other countries, the scandal of clerical child abuse has left thousands of child victims without redress, help, therapy, or a chance for justice.

    The Philippines’ Child Protection Law has a provision that is designed to criminalize such an act where a child is taken to a secluded place — say a vehicle or motel — by an adult not her relative for the purpose of sexual abuse. This provision of the law aims to prevent any act of rape and to bring the suspect to justice.

    The institutional church, that is, the hierarchy in many countries, has been shown to have failed in its obligation and duty to protect children and actively pursue clerical child abusers when the evidence was strong and clear.

    In the past, church institutions in various countries even facilitated payoffs to parents of child victims and tried to use its influence to have authorities drop charges against priests and religious. Other clergy were moved to other parishes when child abuse complaints were made.

    In many cases, there was no action by church officials to protect the child and report the alleged abuser to authorities for the alleged crimes. There have been big changes in church procedures in dealing with child abuse cases by clergy nowadays, and a zero tolerance policy is in place, thanks to Pope Francis.

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    Two Filipinos included in The Guardian’s report on modern-day slavery

    From GMA News:

    British newspaper The Guardian published a report on Saturday about modern-day slavery, and it’s gone viral. As of this writing, the story has been shared on Facebook over 1,500 times and has garnered over 4,000 reactions.

    “More than 200 years since it was abolished, slavery is thriving,” writers Annie Kelly and Kate Hodal said in the article. They cite a report from the UN International Labour Organisation, which estimates that “21 million people around the world are trapped in some form of modern slavery.”

    The newspaper told the stories of 10 people from all over the world “who have experienced it first-hand.” Of the 10, two were Filipinos.

    There was Elvira, who “managed to make a bold escape, waiting until her ‘employer’ was taking a nap before running to a nearby church for sanctuary,” write Kelly and Hodal.

    She was first sent to Qatar, where the family she worked for paid her less than what they agreed in her contract. “I called the agency in the Philippines for help, but they never answered…I fought with my employer about my salary, but he would say: ‘Your contract is just a piece of paper’,” Elvira narrated.

    Her employers in Qatar told Elvira they will let her go home, if she first went to work for one of their sisters based in London. There, she “worked all the time, without a day off, and slept on the floor by her bed.”

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    Cops rescue 6 female minors being pimped to foreign tourists

    The two sisters’ decisive action results in the arrest of 3 suspected female pimps and the rescue of 4 girls aged 13, 14, 15, and 17

    By Jun A. Malig, Rappler

    Pseudonyms have been used for the minors in this story to protect their identities.

    ANGELES CITY, Philippines – Minutes after allegedly being sexually abused by a Japanese tourist, sisters Elisa, 16, and Emma, 13 (not their real names), realized they could no longer endure their ordeal and decided to end it by seeking help.

    On Tuesday, July 25, the two sisters’ decisive action resulted in the arrest of 3 suspected female pimps and the rescue of 4 girls aged 13, 14, 15, and 17.

    Around 4:00 p.m. last July 21, Ronaldo Quizon, a member of the Angeles City Traffic Development Office, was manning the flow of vehicles along the red light district of Fields Avenue in Balibago village when the sisters approached him for help.

    The two girls told Quizon that they were allegedly raped by a male Japanese tourist inside one of the rooms of 1st Avenue Hotel located along First Street, a few hundred meters away from Fields Avenue.

    The girls pointed at a Japanese man, who ran away after seeing that they were talking with the traffic regulator.

    Quizon followed the Japanese tourist, identified later as Michichiro Suzumura, 43, who went inside JJ’s Supermarket.

    Quizon stood outside the market, waiting for Suzumura to come out. After several minutes, he decided to go inside the store, arrested the Japanese tourist and brought him to a nearby police station.

    Chief Inspector Aris Gonzales said police investigators found out that Suzumura had been receiving text messages from pimps, offering him sex with minor females as young as 13 years old in exchange for a few thousand pesos.

    Policemen then laid out a plan to entrap the pimps. They exchanged text messages with the pimps using Suzumura’s mobile phone.

    On July 25, policemen were able to arrest Cyrille Lazaga, 18; Jessica Dimarucut, 18; and Mary Ann Abundo, 21 – young women suspected to be the ones sending text and multi-media messages to Suzumura.

    The police operatives were also able to rescue 4 minor females in a follow-up operation.

    The arrested suspects are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; violation of Republic Act 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; and violation of Republic Act 9775, the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

    The 6 minor women were turned over to the City Social Welfare and Development Office for debriefing and related assistance. – Rappler.com

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    Woman Nabbed in Bohol for Using Girls in Cybersex

    Authorities rescue 4 girls, among them two minors, who were forced to perform livestreamed sexual acts for foreigners

    From Rappler:

    CYBERSEX SUSPECT. A 31-year-old woman is arrested in Bohol for allegedly using girls in cybersex operations. Photo courtesy of International Justice Mission

    CYBERSEX SUSPECT. A 31-year-old woman is arrested in Bohol for allegedly using girls in cybersex operations. Photo courtesy of International Justice Mission

    MANILA, Philippines – Authorities arrested a woman who allegedly exploited 4 girls, among them two minors, in a cybersex operation in Bohol.MANILA, Philippines – Authorities arrested a woman who allegedly exploited 4 girls, among them two minors, in a cybersex operation in Bohol.

    On Friday, July 21, the Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) – Visayas Field Unit and the WCPC Calape Police Office arrested a 31-year-old woman in Calape, Bohol, reported the civil society group International Justice Mission (IJM) in a statement.

    The woman was allegedly caught “offering the girls, including the minors who were aged 12 and 15, to perform live-streamed sexual acts online” for foreigners “for $150 (around P7,600) per girl,” said the IJM.

    At the crime scene, police seized the phone she supposedly used in producing the lewd videos. Money transfer receipts and several other smartphones in her possession were also seized.

    The suspect is detained at the Calape Police Station. She will face charges for violating Republic Act (RA) 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, and other related laws. (READ: Cybersex, media, privacy, and the cybercrime law).

    The 4 girls rescued from the suspect by the Bohol Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office are now under the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

    The DSWD also took the suspect’s 12-year-old son, who was found in the crime scene during the operation, for assessment.

    The WCPC acted on a tip from a confidential informant, leading to the alleged trafficker’s arrest. “The police online investigation and field surveillance confirmed that the suspect was facilitating these shows from her residence in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Calape, Bohol,” the IJM said.

    IJM-Cebu director of legal interventions Lucille Dejito emphasized that active law enforcement is needed “to bring online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) incidents [to] the surface.”

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    UNANIMA Co-Sponsors Showcase of the Sustainability Leadership of Filipina and Filipino Natives

    From the June UNANIMA Newsletter:

    The second event UNANIMA co-sponsored at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues focused on the topic of agency of indigenous peoples and how their practices and partnerships are contributing to development in their locales. The panel was moderated by UI Research Assistant, Celia Martin, NDS (pictured fourth from left above), and featured three indigenous persons from the Philippines. Filipina panelist Venerva Amil spoke of her experience as a student in an education program run by the Presentation Sisters on her home island. The program has increased school attendance and literacy rates among girls in a community in which most girls are married by age 14. As a graduate of the program, Venerva continues to explore and define her place in society by teaching and empowering other young women to resist gender-based oppression.

    Her co-panelist, Edwina Quialquial, described a series of wellness initiatives offered in her community, including a Montessori pre-school, parenting and housekeeping classes for adults, health clinic to encourage the management of the tuberculosis outbreaks that plague the community, and a youth council that contributes to the proceeding of the official Tribal Council. They are also developing a school curriculum that allows local wisdom, language and culture to be passed down to the rising generation.

    A third panelist, Pablito Gonzales, described his work as an advocate for the preservation of biodiversity on his home island of Negros. The people of Negros face many challenges to their natural environment, including mining activities, deforestation, and commercial, “monocrop” agriculture. “Monocropping,” is the practice of planting the same, single crop on the same plot of land year after year without rest or rotation. In the Philippines, major corporations use this practice on sugar cane plantations which they establish by taking over indigenous land with the promise to hire local indigenous people to work on the plantations. The practice quickly depletes the soil while bringing about the “extinction” of land-related indigenous knowledge, systems, practices, and spirituality. Gonzales works to stop this trend toward environmental and cultural devastation by staging awareness programs and campaigns within Negros’ indigenous community. His group has created a petition to stop deforestation, opened a school for the conferment of traditional environmental knowledge on young people, and engaged encroaching corporations in dialogue about the indigenous rights upon which their operations are infringing.

    Collectively, these examples of indigenous action demonstrated the power of indigenous agency to keep the sustainability in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Video clips of the event are available: Venerva,EdwinaPablito.

    Click here to read the rest of the newsletter

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    Highlights from the April 2017 UNANIMA Newsletter

    Presentation of 2017 Woman of Courage Award at CSW Event

    One of the highlights of CSW61 was an event co-sponsored by UNANIMA, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, the Sisters of Mercy, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, and the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking entitled Inherent Dignity, Real Choices. Before the panel discussion on the relationship between economic empowerment of women and human trafficking, UI Executive Director Jean Quinn had the opportunity to open the event with the presentation of our 2017 Woman of Courage Award to panelist Marietta Latonio. Jean commended Marietta for her relentless pursuit of justice for trafficked women in the streets of Cebu in the Philippines and acknowledged the personal sacrifice it required. A representative of the Filipino government and a friend of Marietta’s was also present to make remarks of admiration and gratitude for her contribution to the anti-trafficking effort in Cebu. As a panelist, Marietta spoke not only of the substance of her work as an officer at the Good Shepherd Welcome House for trafficking survivors in Cebu, but also of the challenge of balancing her trafficking interventions with her responsibilities as a mother and caregiver.

    The panel was rounded out by Winifred Doherty, RGS (see article below) and Mariana Vanin of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, and it drew roaring applause from the audience. (Pictured, clockwise from top left: Angela Reed, RSM; Cecilia O’Dwyer, IBVM; Jean Quinn, DW; Marietta Latonio; Winifred Doherty, RGS; Mariana Vanin)

    Spotlight on the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

    The theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) was “economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work.” UI Staff were joined by 11 delegates from our member congregations. Over the course of the two-week Commission, UNANIMA co-sponsored two side-events as an organization, supported two events as a member of the NGO Committee on Migration, and supported three more as a member of the NGO Mining Working Group. Executive Director Jean Quinn found that attending CSW61 offered her a fresh, global perspective on the gender-based obstacles women face to achieving financial independence or economic security. Here are a few of the powerful points she took away from her experience at the Commission:

    As we know, the world of work has changed dramatically. Jobs are less likely to be life-long careers, technology has taken over in positive and challenging ways, and many people are creating their own businesses – but sadly the gender gap remains.

    According to UN Women, 76.1% of working-age men are in the work force, but only 49.6% of working-age women are. 61.5% of women are engaged in the service sector and 25 percent in the agricultural sector, while just 13.5% work in industry. Globally, women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for work of equal value. Only 63 countries comply with the International Labor Organization’s minimum maternity leave standards, which recommend that mothers be granted at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. Only 67 countries have laws against gender discrimination in hiring practices. In 18 countries, husbands can prevent their wives from working.

    Women and girls typically spend more than double the time spent by men and boys on household responsibilities such as looking after siblings, older family members, caring for the sick, and managing the household.

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