BY JUANCHO GALLARDE
Armed with a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 34, the operatives headed by Dumaguete deputy chief of police Chief Inspector Julius Muñez, swooped down on a residential house in the area, about six kilometers from the city proper. Muñez said at least four minors were made to perform nude in front of the computer camera for a fee from foreigners.
Police confiscated the computer and its accessories, telephone set and other paraphernalia, and assorted clothing of the minors.
Muñez said women and children are the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking, because of depressive conditions in their homes that force them to do anything to earn income.
The raid at the house of the suspects on Wednesday was a result of close surveillance and reports from minor victims who claimed they were made to undress and dance in front of the web camera for "clients" who connect to them via the Internet. Muñez, meanwhile, declined to identify the couple arrested and charged in court, citing a confidentiality clause in Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Section 6 of the Act states that the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused must be respected, and that at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under it, the identities and personal circumstances of both the accused and the victim shall not be disclosed to the public, Muñez added.
The media shall also be held liable for publishing or airing information and causing publicity of any case of trafficking in persons. Because of these provisions, Muñez said the police could not freely discuss with the media the alleged cyber sex operations of the couple.
He, however, appealed to the public to help the police by monitoring and reporting unusual activities in their neighborhood, such as the constant presence of young girls, especially if scantily dressed and wearing make-up, at a particular house.
Muñez added that he believes cyber sex operations are syndicated and that those involved in the illegal trade usually move from one place to another, making it difficult for the police to arrest them.
Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights special investigator Jess Cañete who witnessed the raid, said the four minors are now in the custody of the G-WAVE, but their names are being withheld. Cañete said the girls were told to remove their clothes and show their private parts in front of the camera.*JG