Leyte court sentences woman to life in prison for online sex trafficking
CEBU CITY—A woman was found guilty by a trial court in Abuyog town of Leyte province for sexually abusing minors, including her own daughter, in exchange for money from online sex offenders.
Pia (not her real name) was meted life sentences for qualified trafficking and for child abuse; and another up to 17 years in prison for sexually exploiting minors online.
The court ordered her to pay a total fine of P4.5 million for all three offenses, according to the verdict issued on Feb. 22 but only released on March 18 by the International Justice Mission (IJM), a US-based nongovernment human rights group that combats slavery, sexual assault on children and cybersex trafficking.
While the law against human trafficking allows the media to identify the accused, the Inquirer withheld the name of the accused to protect the identity of her daughter.
Regional Prosecutor Irwin Maraya said the conviction of the accused was a huge win for child protection.
“No child had to be put on the witness stand and be retraumatized. Instead, the prosecution maximized the available digital evidence and tapped international collaboration to prove its case. This outcome demonstrates the effectiveness of child-protective approaches in prosecuting online child sexual exploitation cases,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Lawyer Lucille Dejito, IJM Cebu director, said the case stemmed from the arrest in Canada of Philip Chicoine, a Canadian offender who paid the accused to livestream the abuse of minors.
One of the witnesses, Jay Schooley from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), authenticated the referral letter that RCMP sent to the Philippine National Police.
This led to the investigation and eventual arrest of the accused in November 2017. Authorities caught her in the act of offering to perform sex acts on her own 7-year-old daughter and to livestream those acts from her home in MacArthur town, Leyte. Her daughter and eight other children were rescued during the operation.
“This conviction is a significant milestone in the global fight against online sexual exploitation of children. It is a testament to the critical role of cross-border collaboration to timely rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice. As a borderless crime, we must continue to seek borderless solutions,” Dejito said.
In 2017, Chicoine was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, which was later increased to 15 years for orchestrating and paying for the livestreaming of child sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to 40 sexual offenses committed against children and was found to be in possession of more than 10,000 images and videos of child sexual abuse.
Chicoine had spent more than $20,000 arranging for the livestreaming of child sexual abuse of victims in the Philippines and Romania, Canadian authorities said.
—ADOR VINCENT MAYOL INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.