Philippine Police Arrest US Citizen, 3 Locals for Allegedly Running Cybersex Ring

Jojo Rinoza and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila
2021-02-03
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Philippine Police Arrest US Citizen, 3 Locals for Allegedly Running Cybersex Ring Police officers patrol the streets during a coronavirus lockdown in Metro Manila, Aug. 4, 2020.
[Reuters]

Philippine police said Wednesday they had arrested a U.S. citizen and three Filipino women on suspicion of operating a cybersex ring in Angeles, a city north of Manila.

Those arrested were Easton Scot Sanderson, 33, an American, and Filipinas Reinalyn Robles, 22, Jann Arielle Mondejar, 23, and Shirley Martinez, 22, national police chief Gen. Debold Sinas said.

Two victims, whose identities were withheld, were also rescued during a raid at a condominium, the police said in a report.

“The [Philippine National Police] is going after traffickers who prey on women for sexual exploitation. We urge the public to report to us similar illegal activities for immediate police intervention,” Sinas said.

The American and his alleged accomplices were charged with violating laws on human trafficking as well as cybercrime, in a climate where online exploitation has become more pervasive because of coronavirus lockdowns.

If convicted, the four suspects face a maximum sentence of six years in prison for each count.

Philippine authorities were already in touch with the Manila-based agents with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to trace the websites on which the group had uploaded criminal material, police said.

The government’s imposition of stricter regulations to curb an alarming spike in online sexual exploitation amid the pandemic is warranted, said Richard Dy, a spokesman for the Child Rights Network, the largest alliance of agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation.

There is, however, a need to overhaul existing laws that deal with Internet service providers as well as offenders who watch criminal and exploitative material thousands of miles away, Dy said.

The anti-trafficking law, which does not specifically deal with those who watch child sexual abuse materials online, needs to be amended, Dy said.

Child rights violations

Cases of online sexual exploitation of children have been rising in the Philippines during the past four years, especially since 2020 as the pandemic forced many children to stay at home, advocates say.

The Child Rights Network earlier this week called on President Rodrigo Duterte to rethink his administration’s decision to keep children aged 14 years and younger at home as the entire country faces a new and more infectious strain of COVID-19.

“While we acknowledge that the administration has the safety and welfare of Filipino children in mind, we believe that keeping children confined to their homes does as much or more harm than good, as this situation, which has prevailed for almost a year, is detrimental to their physical and mental health,” Dy said.

He said that not all homes were safe and this “may lead to a whole new spate of children’s rights violations.”

“While the hard lockdowns imposed on a community level have long since been lifted, the stay-at-home rules now aggravate a particular sector – children,” Dy said.

The Philippines has become a “global hotspot” for sexual exploitation of children on the internet, with cases having tripled over the three years previously, according to a report released last May by the U.S.-based International Justice Mission.

It said that 149 of every 10,000 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses linked to child sexual exploitation in 2017 originated in the Philippines – three times higher than the rate of 43 of every 10,000 in 2014.

The report said 90 cases of online sexual exploitation of children – involving 381 victims – were investigated between 2011 and 2017. Of these cases, authorities were able to determine the exact length of abuse – ranging from two months to four years – for only 43 victims.

In 2018, a court in Cagayan de Oro, a city in the southern Philippines, sentenced Australian Peter Gerard Scully and his Filipina partner to life in prison for operating a cybersex ring that abused children.

Anonymous says:
Feb 17, 2021 12:03 AM

there are a lot of sex businesses here in Philippines, especially this time of "ASSUMPTIONS" covid 19,

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