30 January 2014

This Mayor Should Resign

Abandoned House
"In the beginning I was shocked, I could not believe this was happening in my town," Mayor Adelino Sitoy told an international news organization last week, shortly after police announced they had cracked a global live-streaming paedophile ring in the remote village of Ibabao in Cebu.

If this is how clueless the local executive is about the massive and horrifying pornography ring operating in the secluded community on the island, then he has no business serving as a public official. Of course he can always resign, or be made to, out of delicadeza or peer pressure or public opinion. But it's not the easiest thing to convince or compel someone to show delicadeza, who is lacking the barest hint of it.

The village grabbed the spotlight after police in the Philippines began carrying out raids in Ibabao and nearby areas with the help of British, Australian and US authorities.

One of the raids saw dozens of Filipino police and social workers break into the bungalow next to the day care centre in September last year, arresting a couple and rescuing their three children, aged three, nine and 11.

The Philippines has rapidly become a key hub of the billion-dollar global child cybersex industry, with operators aided by poverty gaps and legal loopholes that allow them to remain anonymous, according to Senior Supt. Gilbert Sosa, chief of the anticybercrime unit of the PNP.

Paying subscribers anywhere in the world can log in to sites operated from Manila and across the archipelago that stream the abuse of Filipino children on the Internet.

One of the areas considered as poor is Ibabao where Internet child pornography had for some of its 5,000 residents become more lucrative than fishing or factory work.

At first look the coastal community of Ibabao, 550 kilometers (340 miles) south of Manila, is a typical close-knit rural Philippine village, where many of the long-time residents are relatives or enjoy close and longstanding ties.

In scenes echoed across the devoutly Catholic Philippines, its residents regularly attend masses held in quaint chapels along narrow footpaths and dirt roads.

But police and authorities said that behind the closed doors of the tiny wooden and brick homes, many parents directed their children for sex videos in front of webcams connected via the Internet to paying paedophiles overseas.

Other children were lured into the homes of neighbours and forced to perform sex acts in front of webcams, they said.