Philippine Born-Again Christian School Hosts Child Porn Syndicate
‘Christian Academy’ hosts child porn syndicate; school prez held By Nancy C. Carvajal Philippine Daily Inquirer SOME of the arrested...
‘Christian Academy’ hosts child porn syndicate; school prez held
By Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SOME of the arrested cyberporn providers are made to carry the tools of their illegal trade after the NBI raided their office in Novaliches, Quezon City, and two more establishments Monday night. JOAN BONDOC
It was almost the perfect cover for cyberpredators.
The female president of a private school in Muntinlupa City was arrested along with several others for allegedly harboring a child porn syndicate inside her campus, in a crackdown by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that also busted two more clandestine operations in Quezon City.
In raids carried out late Monday night, the NBI arrested 31 people, including Purisima Abano Martinez, president of Mountaintop Christian Academy on Lavender Street, Barangay Tunasan in Muntinlupa.
The other arrests were made at the office of PA Microsource Inc. at Vico Subdivision, Congressional Avenue, and a unit at RMJ Building on Quirino Highway, Novaliches—both in Quezon City.
Martinez and eight other suspects in Muntinlupa used two rooms at Mountaintop to post online images and videos of children and adults for foreign consumption, according to Ronald Aguto, cybercrime investigation head of the NBI.
Authorities were still investigating at press time, but Aguto said it didn’t appear that children at the school were being abused and that the operators were uploading prerecorded images and video.
“We are still in the process of comparing the images seized from the computers and (the photos of) children enrolled in the school,” Aguto said.
More than 40 computers were seized from Mountaintop and around 30 more from the two Quezon City offices.
The school had 2,000 elementary and high school students, Aguto added. Its license was revoked in 2006 for unknown reasons but it had remained open.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Martinez admitted that two rooms in the school were used as Internet shops that had “chat rooms (for) naughty and sexy exchange with adult customers.”
She said proceeds from this operation were used to pay for the maintenance of the school and to finance its scholars.
Martinez also said in a TV interview that she rented out the rooms to Internet site operators to augment the income of the school because fees paid by students were not enough to cover costs.
She said she was aware that the Internet links sold could only be opened by a foreigner who would use his card and that the links led to “naughty” materials.
Martinez’s son, Tom, said the school had only 260 preschool, elementary and high school pupils, and that their permit to operate was valid. It was not clear why there was a discrepancy with the NBI information.
He said the Internet operation was owned by an American from Tennessee, who rented two rooms for P40,000 in a bungalow separate from the classrooms but within the school compound. The American’s whereabouts remained unclear.
The raid showed the extent of the task facing Philippine authorities in cracking down on child pornographers, who exploit weak law enforcement and increasing broadband Internet penetration to base operations in the country.
Gilbert Sosa, director of the national police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group said last month the Philippines was one of the top 10 sources of child pornography in the world, and that police had been cooperating with other countries to crack down on it.
Aguto said the suspects would be charged with violating laws against child pornography and obscene publication of adult pornographic images.
“It was like a computer lab inside the school,” Aguto told Associated Press in a phone interview. “Even during daytime, when the pupils were there, they were using it for this kind of offense.”
He said the site operators worked day and night, chatting online with clients and pretending to be women or girls depending on what the client wanted. They would then upload pictures and prerecorded video of a nude girl or woman they claim to be.
NBI Virgilio Mendez described the operation led by Aguto and his executive officer, Vic Lorenzo, as a breakthrough in the fight against child pornography in the country.
“It was unfortunate that we have been tagged as a supplier of pornographic materials. But this (operation) is just the beginning as we will be hitting more of these targets that are disguised as call centers or info-tech businesses,” Mendez said.