Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mom seized in Cebu for ‘pimping’ girls

CEBU CITY -- A mother and her American live-in partner were arrested in this city Wednesday night on suspicion of trying to pimp her two young daughters in prostitution dens. On the same night, policemen in Mandaue City rescued six women aged 19 to 26 and arrested two men for alleged human trafficking. Dina, 36, and American national Roger, 46, (not their real names) were arrested on Pelaez St., Cebu City. Dina’s daughters, Jane and Janice (not their real names), aged 14 and 15, were brought to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Visayas. Dina denied the accusation against her and the American, saying she was eating dinner when the operatives arrested them. She and her partner were allegedly waiting for clients for their older daughter when arrested. The Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RAHTTF) is also verifying Jane’s allegation that her younger siblings were sold by their mother in Leyte. Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the real names of the parties involved since the law prohibits the media from naming trafficking suspects and their victims. PO3 Etelberto Timagos of RAHTTF said they received a call from a barangay official of Basak San Nicolas last Wednesday, informing them of the alleged trafficking involving one of the students in a nearby public school. “We were informed that the girl’s mother and the American national went to the school last Wednesday morning to fetch (Jane), and (Jane),” Timagos said in Bisaya. Timagos said Jane ran and hid in the ladies’ room to avoid her mother. Out of fear, Jane confessed to her teacher that she was being pimped by her mother at night. She also said Roger maltreated and abused her. Jane recently moved in with her grandmother, Dina’s mother, who supported Jane’s accusation against Dina. When the teacher learned about what happened, she and the school principal sought the help of Basak San Nicolas barangay officials, who then helped them report it to RAHTTF. Timagos said that at 11 a.m. Wednesday, the RAHTTF went to Jane’s school. “She told us that her 15-year-old sister was also pimped by her mother and her younger brother and younger sister were sold in Leyte,” Timagos said. Jane accompanied the operatives of RAHTTF Wednesday evening to prove her allegation against her mother. “We saw her mother (Dina) on Pelaez St. standing together with the American national. Her older sister was there, prompting us to arrest their mother,” added Timagos. Based on their investigation, Timagos said Jane’s older sister was pimped, prompting them to rescue her. Timagos said prostitutes usually hang out in the area where the suspects were arrested. Dina and Roger are detained in RAHTTF while the two girls are now under the care of DSWD Central Visayas. Jaybee Binghay, information officer of DSWD, said the girls are undergoing counseling and evaluation. “We are providing them with the best help. We don’t intend to let them be separated so they don’t feel isolated,” she said. Binghay said a DSWD-run center is providing the girls with food, clothing and shelter. She said social workers and experts will make a psychosocial intervention plan for the girls based on the evaluation of the center’s psychologist. Timagos said they still have to verify Jane’s accusation about her siblings being sold in another province. As of Thursday, affidavits were still being gathered in preparation for the filing of a case against the mother and her American partner. He said they still have to decide what cases to file, and that a case of Child Abuse may be one. In Mandaue City, the entrapment and rescue occurred at 9:45 p.m. near a gas station in Barangay Alang-Alang. Inspector Sheryl Bautista, chief of the Mandaue City Police Office’s Children and Women’s Protection Desk, said the two suspects, who are homosexuals, had been under surveillance for a week. The six women, aged 19 to 26, are now undergoing counseling at DSWD. Bautista said the suspects, who claim to be 22 years old, sold the girls for sex. They ask P2,500 for each girl. The entrapment, where two men acted as decoys, was led by Bautista, Inspector Wilson Abot and Inspector Luis Alama. The police recovered the P6,000 marked money. The suspects, detained at the Canduman Police Station, will be charged with violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. If convicted, they will serve life imprisonment. Both suspects are residents of Mandaue. Bautista said one of the rescued women is a fourth year high school student, while another is a college student. Another victim is a worker at the Mactan Economic Processing Zone. In an interview with reporters, the suspects said they did not force the women to engage in prostitution. They said the women were the ones who contacted them. It was the second anti-trafficking operation conducted by the MCPO this year. Last March, police arrested a human trafficker and rescued seven women. (JBT/RSB/DSM of Sun.Star Cebu)