NBI agents nab Aussie, rescue 15 women, girls
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday rescued about 15 females, including four suspected minors, in a house believed used as a cybersex den in barangay Labangon, Cebu City.
The victims were purportedly paid to perform lewd acts in front of web cameras and to have sex with their employer.
The late afternoon raid resulted in the arrest of 46-year-old Drew Shobbrook, an Australian who rented three apartments which re losed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
The NBI agents confiscated at least seven laptops, four desktop computers, computer parts, an iPad tablet, hard disks containing “explicit and lewd photographs,” and bottles of energy drinks.
Charges for violating Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 will be filed by the NBI-7 against the foreigner before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office.
The victims cannot be identified by the media under the special law’s confidentiality provisions.
However, identities and circumstances of human trafficking offenders are no longer held confidential in the recently signed RA 10364. The law amended Republic Act 9208 that previously shielded both victims and suspected human traffickers.
With the change, the media can now report names and other circumstances of suspected offenders to warn the public not to do business with them and to avoid being victimized.
In an interview, the Australian suspect denied he was involved in criminal activities.
“I’ve been falsely accused. I’m definitely not involved in cybersex operations,” he told reporters.
The Australian gave his his name as Drew Shobbrook, but the NBI found a Philippine driver’s license and other documents where he used the name Dean Fred Joban.
The suspect said his wife and daughter in Sydney, Australia have yet to be informed about his arrest.
“I hope the charges against me will be dropped unless this country falsely accuses people,” he said.
Shobbrook said he arrived in the country in 2011.
“I decided to come to the Philippines to give people jobs. I’m not sure what accusations they brought against me,” he said.
The Australian said he rented a two-storey apartments in Cebu City last year for a bookkeeping business and hired seven female staffers as encoders.
Some months ago, three staff members purportedly stole valuables including a laptop, motorbike, iPhones, and an iPad.
He said he decided to fire his three staffers last week, adding that they fabricated accusations against him.
The three staffers sought the assistance of the NBI 7.
The raid was authorized by a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Judge Alexander Acosta of Branch 9. It was mounted in cooperation with the International Justice Mission.
NBI Central Visayas Regional Director Antonio Pagatpat said they are serious in their campaign against human trafficking and cyberpornography.
“My message is simple. We have a law that prohibits exploitation of women and minors. We won’t allow anyone to just exploit minors and women,” he told Cebu Daily
NBI is under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“We urge the community, if they have any information about cybercrimes to report to the NBI and we will act on it,” said Pagatpat.
The Australian suspect was brought to the NBI stockade pending the filing of charges against him.The female victims were taken to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
NBI supervising agent Reynaldo Villordon, team leader in yesterday’s operation, said surveilance was made before the raid.
The NBI earlier received complaints that the Australian hired women and girls for sex, and would take videos of the lewd acts which he sold and uploaded on a pornographic website.
“We will find out who are their contacts outside the country,” he said.
“The victims can be considered sex slaves. They were offered some considerations by the suspect,”
The sister of one of the rescued women was surprised about the raid.
She said her two sisters were hired as encoders for a website and received P10,000 a month. They were also sent to school by the Australian. /with Fe Marie Dumaboc
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