Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano on Monday urged the people to help the city government’s fight against child abuse and exploitation, saying her administration will not stop until those who engage in illegal activity are held accountable.
Cayetano made the appeal following the rescue of nine victims and the arrest of a couple suspected to be members of a well-organized group responsible behind the operation of cybersex den in Barangay Calzada.
The suspects, whom the authorities did not identify, are now detained and have been charged for violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Cayetano asked the public to continue reporting any incident of sexual exploitation, cybersex, drug abuse and human trafficking to the city’s hotline, 0932-272-4888, which she said is active 24/7.
“We are very serious about putting an end to this serious crime. There is never any room in Taguig for people who exploit minors. Rest assured that the City of Taguig will always act right away to protect our children,” Cayetano said.
The city government coordinated closely with the US Homeland Security and Investigation, the National Police and non-government organization International Justice Mission in going after the syndicate.
Investigation showed that the victims, aged from five to 15 years old, were forced to perform sexual acts in front of a camera for live streaming to clients in America and Europe.
The clients were asked to pay from P2,000 to P5,000 depending on the performance of the victims during the live streaming.
Cayetano thanked US Homeland, the police and IJM for working with the local government, adding the continued longstanding partnership of the city with such organizations for the past years is “truly an effective way to make headway” in the fight against online child exploitation.
Since 2014, the strict monitoring of the Taguig City government in close coordination with these agencies has rescued 43 minors who are being exploited online.
The rescued children have been either referred to institutions or returned with their families while undergoing psychosocial interventions. In partnership with IJM, the City of Taguig also conducts psycho-education sessions for the relatives of children who were exploited online.
They are also given livelihood assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Twenty-four suspects have so far been arrested, four have already been convicted by the city’s regional trial court.
Taguig City is known for its child-friendly programs like the Lifeline Assistance for Neighbors In-need Scholarship which offers a comprehensive scholarship program for post-high school students in the city.
Last year, the city government launched a project dubbed as PROTECT (Prevent, Rehabilitate and Overcome Trauma on Exploitation Among Children and Teenagers) in line with Mayor Cayetano’s Community Awareness towards Resilient and Empowered Students program.
PROTECT aims to zero in on cyber crimes and other Web-based offenses compromising the wellbeing of children and youth.