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Cyberpornography is No. 1 crime in the Philippines
Publication Date : 18-01-2014
The pins on the Philippine map at the Philippine National Police (PNP) say it all: Cyberpornography is prevalent throughout the country that law enforcers consider it the No. 1 crime in the Philippines—more menacing even than the illegal drug trade.
“The data speaks for itself. It is now the No. 1 crime in our country. We have to act on this,” said Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa, director of the PNP Anti-Transnational and Cyber Crime Division of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (ATCCD-CIDG).
This practically makes the Philippines among the top 10 countries where cyberpornography is rampant, he said.
But while cyberpornography has become a lucrative business in the Philippines, the PNP has yet to determine how much money the syndicates rake in annually, Sosa said.
The police official met the media on Friday following a report from Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) international antichild pornography operation had cracked a pedophile ring in the Philippines running a cyberpornography business.
The investigation, called Operation Endeavor, covered a dozen countries and led to the arrest of 29 people, including 11 in the Philippines, the NCA said.
Top 4 sites
In the map of the Philippines that Sosa presented via PowerPoint, practically all parts of the country, particularly in Luzon and the Visayas, had pins on them to indicate where online transmittal of pornographic materials featuring children have taken place.
Sosa said a police investigation revealed that Angeles City in Pampanga province, Cebu province, Cagayan de Oro City, and Metro Manila are the top four transmittal sites for online pornography.
However, the police still do not have any data on how many children have been, or are being, exploited by this sordid industry.
Sosa said the PNP, particularly the Police Regional Office 3, had worked with the UK police, Australian Federal Police and the US Homeland Security in busting a pedophile ring in Angeles City on Oct 29, 2012.
Eleven minors, mostly boys, were rescued and 11 adult Filipinos were arrested in the Angeles City raid.
The suspects have been charged with violation of the human trafficking and child pornography laws. The case is now with the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 of Angeles City under presiding Judge Angelica Quiambao.
TRO a hindrance
According to Sosa, police investigation into cyberpornography incidents would be so much easier if the temporary restraining order on the Anti-Cybercrime Law were to be lifted. The supreme court had suspended the law’s implementation, over petitions that it violated privacy laws.
“The debate on the Cybercrime Law focuses on the substantial part of it. But the police needs the procedural aspect of the law so that we can run after these pedophiles,” Sosa said.
He said the police cannot access data from telecommunication companies, particularly on the WiFi and broadband connections of the computer terminals used to transmit the pornographic images online because of the TRO on the law.
“But despite these constraints, we are still working hard getting these perpetrators,” he said.
Sosa said the police gets some 30 to 40 requests a month to check on suspicious activities online.
He urged communities to work with law enforcers in stopping cyberpornography and save the children, many of whom have parents who are actually encouraging the trade because they earn from it.
“Usually, the parents would be approached. They would be supplied with a computer for live streaming. For still photographs, they would be told to go to a studio. For the victims, they will make it look like it’s just child’s play,” Sosa said.
He urged citizens to report to the police if they see children with adults suspiciously entering resorts, hotels and residences.
Some syndicates would set up shop in slum areas, Sosa said.
Most foreigners involved in the trade have Filipino accomplices, he said. Many are also foreigners married to Filipino women, the police official said.