CEBU CITY, Philippines—A court here sentenced a mother-and-daughter tandem for charges in relation to online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).
The International Justice Mission (IJM), in a press release dated September 24, 2020, said that Branch 24 of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court sentenced the two women to a combined 21 years imprisonment for child abuse offense.
Presiding Judge Jose Nathaniel Andal handed down the verdict through a video conference on September 23, 2020, IJM said.
The mother, 43, was sentenced to six years in jail time while her 23-year-old daughter was sentenced to 15 years.
Both suspects entered into a plea bargain agreement, and pleaded guilty to violating the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, Anti-Child Pornography Act, and Anti-Child Abuse Law.
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“Under a plea bargain agreement, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offenses, usually before a court trial starts. This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against the perpetrators who are often family members or neighbors, reducing the possibility of re-traumatization,” explained IJM.
They were also ordered to pay a total of around P800,000 in moral and exemplary damages.
IJM Cebu Field Office Director Lucille Dejito welcomed the decision of the court.
“Despite the limitations brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, we see the steadfast effort of our prosecution partners and our courts to keep the wheels of justice turning,” said Dejito.
“We are encouraged to see how our judiciary is adapting to the new realities, making full use of available technology to see this conviction through. Technology-based, child-protective measures such as videoconferencing hearings allow us to uphold the best interest of the child during this time of pandemic,” she added.
According to IJM, the mother-and-daughter tandem were arrested by the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit last April 2019 in a sting operation.
The 23-year-old suspect’s two younger sisters – aged 18 and 21 at the time of her arrest – and her six-year-old daughter were rescued.