ILIGAN CITY, PHILIPPINES—Just 37 days after their arrest, two Filipino traffickers pled guilty to attempted trafficking and child abuse in a Philippine court.
Their crimes: Sexually abusing young children, and sharing that abuse with foreign pedophiles online who were willing to pay to watch. The male suspect also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit acts of child pornography.
In the June operation that led to the suspects' arrest, authorities rescued four victims, ages 19, 14, 13 and 8 months and removed two additional children believed to be at-risk for abuse, ages 9 and 6. The 8-month-old infant is the son of the oldest victim rescued, a 19-year-old woman. IJM’s team in Manila supported the Philippine National Police in the Mindanao region to find these victims and bring them to safety. The rescued surviors were placed in safe shelters where they are receiving the trauma-informed care that they need.
This case was resolved by plea bargaining, which posed less of a risk for the children. IJM’s Senior Legal Counsel Ralph Catedral, who supported the prosecution, noted that this strategy “spared the children from having to testify against their relatives; protecting them from [the] further trauma” of having to talk about their abuse in open court.
Because justice was quickly secured, these survivors and other children are safe from further abuse at the hands of these two perpetrators.
Both of the criminals were sentenced to 15 years for attempted trafficking. Each face an additional 2 to 4 years for child abuse. The male suspect faces an extra 2 to 4 years, or a maximum 23-year sentence, for pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit child pornography.
"We rejoice once again that justice is served—and served quickly," shared Reynaldo Bicol, who leads IJM's team in Manila. "We are full of hope, and it is with this [hope that] we will press on and keep fighting."