MANILA–The city government of Taguig congratulated US Homeland Security Investigations and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTRAD) for a successful operation in Taguig resulting in the rescue of two children, and the arrest of three adults for offering children for sexual acts in exchange for fees.
This operation was undertaken thanks to close coordination between NBI, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Manila, and HSI Portland, Maine, and was supported by the Taguig City Social Welfare Department as well as the International Justice Mission.
HSI Portland and HSI Manila identified the suspects and their cybersex operation. HSI Manila then requested the assistance of the NBI AHTRAD, who led the entrapment operation in Taguig City that resulted in the takedown of this child cybersex operation.
Social workers from Taguig City’s Social Welfare Department became involved at the stakeout stage of the operation, then provided protection to the rescued minors and assisted them through their interviews with the police and medical officials, ensuring their wellbeing throughout the process.
“We act as parents for them until they are turned over to a caregiving institution where psychosocial care be provided for them,” said Taguig City social worker Jurita Olvido, adding that the two minors have already been endorsed to a non-governmental organization accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The three suspects have been charged for violation of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Over the past year, HSI Manila has collaborated with a core group of Taguig City law enforcers and social health care workers, led by Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, to find ways to prevent the spread of online cybersex trafficking.
“We commend Mayor Cayetano for assembling a team that prioritizes this issue,” said Ransom Avilla, HSI Attaché at the US Embassy in the Philippines.
“We have been working with the Mayor and the City to address this growing crime in the Philippines and to bring it to the public’s attention.”
The arrest of the child cybersex traffickers and the rescue of the children in a hotel in Bonifacio Global City speaks volumes of Mayor Cayetano’s commitment to fight online cybersex trafficking. With the permission of the Philippine government, this operation was filmed by the BBC in an effort to build public awareness of cybersex trafficking and law enforcement efforts to curb it. The BBC documentary will air this coming summer.
Mayor Lani Cayetano urged the public to help the city and the national government in fighting cybersex operations. She also reiterated that her administration will not stop until those who engage in these are held accountable.
“Taguigeños, especially the young ones, deserve a safe, peaceful and nurturing environment where they are protected and cared for,” Cayetano said in a statement.