Couple convicted of cyberporn
CEBU CITY — A couple will spend the rest of their lives in jail for using their six children for cyber pornography in Cordova town, Mactan Island, Cebu.
The Mandaue Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday found them guilty of qualified trafficking and other cases, ending a seven-year trial in what was Cebu’s first documented cyber pornography case.
The couple did not speak a word or display any emotion when the verdict was read.
Their children were not present during the promulgation but would be told of the decision of Judge Ferdinand Rafanan, of RTC Branch 55 in Mandaue City, who found overwhelming evidence against their parents.
The two were sentenced to life imprisonment for qualified trafficking and five to 12 years imprisonment for “other acts of child abuse.”
For “offering, transmitting and broadcasting any form of cyber pornography” the couple were meted a penalty of 12 to 20 years in prison.
The court also ordered the couple to pay a total of P12.8 million in fines.
While the law against human trafficking allowed media to identify the accused, their names were withheld to protect the identities of the victims — their own children.
“This is a long-drawn battle,” said Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Mapale, cochair of the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC).
‘We gave them hope’
Magpale held back her tears in her testimony to describe the videotape of the victims in lewd poses which was used as evidence.
“I couldn’t sleep after watching that,” Magpale said.
Prosecutor Lolita Lomanta, the lone state lawyer who represented the victims throughout the proceedings, said the conviction validated the justness of rescuing the children from their parents.
“We already obtained victory the day we rescued these children because that was when we gave them hope,” Lomanta said.
“This conviction is simply a validation of that victory,” she said.
The children were turned over to the care of a private, nonprofit institution which had provided safe haven to them in the last seven years.
The elder brothers, now aged 22 and 20, are out of the center.
One now works as a cook in a cruise ship while the other works in an industrial company.
The third of seven children is graduating in a Cebu university.
Their mother, who was eight months pregnant when arrested, gave birth to a son inside the Lapu-Lapu City Jail. The baby is now with his siblings.
Court records showed that the parents made their children undress and pose naked in front of a web camera for online pedophiles who pay to view the children.
For each live online performance, the couple reportedly earned P1,000 to P5,000.
Acting on a tip from the PWC, the National Bureau of Investigation raided the house on June 1, 2011, and rescued the children.
In an interview last May, one of the rescued victims, now 18, said she and her siblings had no ill feelings toward their parents although they knew that what their parents did was wrong.
“What we’re going through as a family isn’t easy,” said the victim.
“But I believe there is a reason for everything,” she said.
“It’s up to us to give up or to move forward in life,” she added.
She said she wanted to return to their home to educate people about the menace of cyber pornography.
“There are many ways to earn a living, and they just have to think well without compromising the rights of children,” she said.
“Parents should consider our future,” she added.
“For those who continue to expose their children to cyber pornography, there’s still time to change,” the victim added.
“Do it now while it’s still early. Remember, regrets always come last,” she said.
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