Lawyer Barbara Mae Flores, deputy regional prosecutor of the Regional Prosecution Office, bared on Friday that Davao Region ranked sixth across the country with the most number of human trafficking cases.
“If you compare Davao Region to the rest of the country, we have the sixth most number of human trafficking cases filed in court. Meaning out of the regions in the country, ika sixth po tayo sa pinakamaraming cases na na-file in court. As regards to convictions, we are also in the top 5, meaning we are the fifth region with the highest number of convictions of human trafficking cases,” Flores said in a virtual presser.
Although the internet has been a positive catalyst for innovation and education, Flores said it has also enabled those who intends to harm children by making it easier for them to access and share child sexual abuse materials; to find like-minded offenders; and reduce their risk of detection.
She said as connectivity expands, so too do sexual crimes committed against children where online tools and/or services are used such as online sexual exploitation.
Flores said in Davao Region, RPO 11 already has four cases filed for online sexual exploitation on children and majority of the perpetrators are the parents and relatives of the victims.
She said three of these cases filed has resulted to conviction of the perpetrators.
“Unfortunately, the perpetrators that we usually catch here are the parents or relatives of the victims. Sila talaga yung usual perpetrators. Now you asked bakit ang parents or relatives? Because they have control over the children,” she said.
According to Flores, it also concerns the agency that at this time of pandemic more children are inside their houses wherein they are more vulnerable to online sexual exploitation.
“As for foreign perpetrators, we are thankful that the law enforcers in other countries are helpful in making sure that the perpetrators are identified and cases are filed against them,” she said.
Flores cited one particular case handled by RPO 11 where the perpetrator is a foreigner and was sentenced to five year imprisonment.
Flores said that online sexual exploitation on children is one of the hardest crimes to detect.
“But fortunately, advance na rin ang pag-detect sa mga perpetrators. Ang ating mga law enforcers have strategies to catch these perpetrators through the use of technology,” she said.
The RPO 11 is part of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACATP), which is composed of national agencies, local government units (LGUs), and NGOs and is in-charge with the rescue and entrapment operations, and the prosecution of cases in court.
Merlinda Paragamac, assistant regional director of the Department of Social and Welfare Development 11 (DSWD 11), said the agency is part of the IACATP 11 and is in-charge on the recovery and re-integration.
“In terms of our services and interventions we do psychosocial interventions, provide temporary shelters, extend legal assistance, medical and educational assistance, livelihood and skills training of our victims,” she said.