THE STORY STARTEDÂ Â out with an innocent house rented by a Belgian, Pastor Slachmuylders (now 76 years old), in the rustic sitio of Â Soon Â in the town of Trinidad. Filipinos are natural suckers for aging foreigners Â for Â choosing our place (from many other alternatives) Â as the Â new Â domicile in their retirement years. Especially if such foreigners are the amiable types. And such was this Belgian.Â
Four years later this year, some Trinidad folks were no longer comfortable Â with the knowledge that the rotund Belgian could just be playing “modern-day Santa Claus” in his generosity with (usually ) minor children who would regularly flock to his home. Distressed with what could be happening to some of their children , they wrote to no less than President Noynoy Â Aquino to send an investigating team to watch the suspicious Â game being played by Slachmuylders. And cause his deportation if warranted.
Apart from that presidential letter- the NBI under the Department of Justice Leila de Lima ,acting on a classified but credible tip-launched its own separate Â surveillance on the Belgian’s activities and as a result raided his residence before the crack of dawn yesterday on the basis of a warrant of arrest.
On the basis of the testimonies of the children and teeners regarding the Â perverted sexual activities foisted on them by the aging Lothario Â , lewd photos of minors Â found in his home and actual video footage Â of the NBI of one of Â of his activities, the NBI is poised to file charges against Slachmuylders for violation of RA 9208 Â or” Anti Â Trafficking in Person Â Act of 2003″ , RA 7610 Â or ” Special Protection of Children Â Against Abuse, Exploitation Â and Discrimination Act ” and RA 9775 Â or ” Anti Child Pornography Â Act Â of 2009″.
The NBI is currently using more sophisticated devices to upload many of the contents of the suspect’s laptops and computer to ascertain whether these Â photos or Â videos were illegally Â used in what is now known as a global malady Â of Cybersex Crime.
Just what Â is Cybersex Crime? It is “the willful engagement , maintenance, control or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer , for favor or consideration”.
The questions being asked as of now are many. Did Prosper Â Slachmuylders in his advanced age and physical predisposition do those acts “merely and only” Â to satisfy his perverse carnal pleasure? Or did he upload these salacious, exploitative sexual acts with young girls -with a paying audience abroad and thus qualify under acts of a Cybersex Crime?
If it is so, is the Trinidad Case just Â an isolated case of cyberxex crime or just a tip of the iceberg -and Â that similar cases are Â actually happening in other places in a province otherwise known for the religious fervor of its people as much Â as for their Â bending Â backwards to Â favor foreigners -in the name of tourism- like true descendants of the friendly Datu Sikatuna?
That asked, the Trinidad Incident is a truly alarming wake-up call. We await with anguished anticipation what the further NBI tests on the computers will yield.
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THE EVIL OF CYBERSEX CRIME
Cybercrime ,including cybersex -significantly, is already a global billion dollar industry, where there exists worldwide- 750,000 salivating,lecherous (mostly pedophiles) Â people Â watching and paying US$56 Â (about P2,000 plus) per minute for (oftentimes) kids to do various sexual acts before the webcam-for the sexual satisfaction of these perverts.
As in drug usage, its prevention can come Â from both the supply and demand side of the equation. Senator Loren Legarda was right in espousing international cooperation in identifying and jailing these sex-starved perverts abroad Â and thus Â curtail demand.
But why does the supply side of the Cybersex crime thrive in this country?
One, is that deep rooted poverty throws all morality out of the window. The name of the game is survival for many families, and all Â the more is the pity. Second, many parents themselves allow their own children as accessories, justifying that Â this is as better than prostitution where there is just visual violation and no physical contact. Really,now? No wonder , it is a thriving industry, then.
One can imagine how lucrative Â these “pay-for-view” shows are-compared to how the parents labor and toil to make Â a measly P3,000 a month to keep the family together. The financial gain is sometimes too hard to ignore versus the effort required to earn it-even for the youngster-victims.Â The psychological damage Â on the child is, of course, another matter. A significant one.
A Scottish teenage, for instance, Â is recorded to have committed suicide after being victimized by this cybersex crime syndicates. Â Likewise, a Â debased Briton Â reportedly recorded the sexual abuse of five of (all) five members of a Filipino family and Â the act was watched by fellow British-clients on webcam. The depravity finds no end- anything goes.
Third, there is Â a relatively low risk of arrest -for Â cybersex crime can be committed Â in the comfort Â of homes , a friend’s residence or Â secured internet cafes using a variety of tools like computers, tablets Â and cellular phones. Fourth, is Â that there is easy access to Internet facilities and Asia (of which RP is a part) has 1.3 billion such internet users.
Fifth, we have a very young population (a teeming 100 million) of which the average age is 23- many of them jobless or underemployed.” Idleness is the workshop of the devil” was never as much underscored as in our case.
President Noynoy Aquino -made aware of the enormity of the problem signed Â what Â is now known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012” seeking the Â imprisonment of the guilty to “prison mayor” ( 6 -12 years) and a fine of P200,000 but not to exceed P1.0M.
That Aquino Law mandates for the creation Â of an” Office of Cybercrime” under the Department of Justice Â and to have special cybercrime prosecutors among the ranks of of both the PNP and the NBI. Â That office is also Â in charge for the extradition or the deportation of cybercriminals,as the case may be.
But more than that- people have to go Â back to basics. The family and the schools need to be the vanguards in explaining and then safeguarding the children from the pernicious tentacles of this newfangled 21st century criminality Â that corrupts Â mostly the young .”Value formation” forays from the church and civic organizations that will bring morality back to the marketplace and de-deify (not make gods of) money and material things- must be an everyday thing.
Parents who, instead of becoming guardians of morality, push their kids to this type of crime – should also be punished by the spirit of the Â law. An unspeakable crime, it is.
Not even the uncivilized Vikings ever sold their own children for sex. That is why -it is also called “one of the end of time” crimes.Â Let us all beware and cleanse our barangays of any signs Â of this lewd means of livelihood.
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