MANILA— The US Homeland Security Investigation has commended the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OOC) for its intensified war against child pornography.
”This is a validation of our efforts to protect our children from the evils of exploitation and pornography,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II said in a statement on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the DOJ, the US Homeland Security Investigation, represented by its attaché, Ransom Avilla, thanked the agency for its cooperation and “tremendous assistance” in the Calvin Bernhardt child pornography case.
“Our Filipino youth, has always been and will always be, the hope of our future. They are our future. The DOJ will support all efforts to protect them. Let this be a warning to preying pedophiles, we will come after you,” Aguirre said after he received the communication.
The letter of gratitude, ended by stating, “This is an example on how our collective efforts can combat and bring to justice pedophiles involved in this horrific crime against children.”
Calvin Bernhardt, an American national, who was caught exploiting Filipino children in cyberspace, was convicted by a federal court due to five counts of child pornography and child exploitation crimes. He is now facing up to 25 years of incarceration in US prison.
Last May 2016, the joint operation of National Bureau of Investigation-Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) and theDOJ-OOC jointly carried out the operation to arrest a woman for allegedly pimping her 15-year-old daughter to a foreigner online in Pasig City.
The operation stemmed from the report of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a US-based non-profit organization which helps identify and rescue victims of child pornography and child sexual exploitation around the world, including the Philippines.
Based on the report received by the DOJ-OOC, Bernhardt, a resident of North Dakota persuaded the arrested woman to produce and send explicit photos of herself via private messages.
The sex offender, earlier arrested by the US authorities for child exploitation, was later on discovered to be sending money to the victim’s mother in exchange for her daughter’s photos.
The mother will face charges for violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 while her daughter is now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)..