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Child porn operation raided in Philippine school

By Teresa Cerojano

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:50 a.m. HST, Feb 18, 2014

MANILA, Philippines >> Government agents raided an Internet child porn operation based in a Philippine school and arrested its president and eight other people, investigators said Tuesday.

The suspects used a room at the Mountaintop Christian Academy to post online images and video of children and adults for foreign consumption, said Ronald Aguto, cybercrime investigation head in the National Bureau of Investigation.

Authorities were still investigating, but Aguto said it didn't appear that children at the school were being abused and that the operators were uploading pre-recorded images and video stored.

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 Its license was revoked in 2006 for unknown reasons but it had remained open.

Puring Martinez, the arrested president and owner of the private school, told GMA television network she rented out the room to the 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 can only be opened by a foreigner who will use his card and that the links lead to "naughty" materials.

Martinez' 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 40,000 pesos ($900) in a bungalow separate from the classrooms but within the school compound. All of the suspects arrested are Filipino, and the American's whereabouts were not clear.

The raid shows 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 have been cooperating with other countries to crack down on it.

Two other Internet porn operations in Quezon city were raided Monday night. At least 22 people were arrested in those two raids and more than two dozen computers seized.

Aguto said they have yet to conduct a forensic investigation on the seized computers, but based on what they have gathered so far, the suspects will be charged with violating laws against child pornography and obscene publication of adult pornographic images.

More than 40 computers were seized as evidence during the raid late Monday at the school in Metropolitan Manila's Muntinlupa city.

"It was like a computer lab inside the school," Aguto said in a telephone 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 pre-recorded video of a nude girl or woman they claim to be.

Last month, Britain's National Crime Agency said child abuse investigators in Britain, the U.S. and Australia had dismantled an organized crime group that streamed footage of child sexual abuse. The ring abused impoverished children as young as 6, the agency said. Authorities made 29 arrests, including 11 people in the Philippines who had facilitated the crime. Some were members of the children's families.

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kuroiwaj wrote:
Coming to Hawaii as Pono Choices.
on February 18,2014 | 06:49AM
cojef wrote:
Production of child pornography medium thrives in countries where poverty is rampant as evidenced by this news item. However the adherents reside globally, thankfully in small numbers. Aggressive suppression activities by law enforcement hopefully will eradicate this menace that victimize children.
on February 18,2014 | 07:01AM
cojef wrote:
OOps. 2nd time sent for approval for pointing out where most likely the child pornography materials are produced and law enforcement's role in preventing the spread of this disease.
on February 18,2014 | 07:10AM
cojef wrote:
After the 3rd time trying to get my post accepted gave up.
on February 18,2014 | 07:11AM
localguy wrote:
Look for a word the shibai censor program is pinging on. Sometimes it is not a d e r o g a t o r y word, just issues with a shoddy computer program, low budget company the SA selected. Anyway, s p a c e the word out and it will sail right through. Copy the text, try to submit. No luck, paste text back and look for another word. Sometimes more than one. Agree, a truly shoddy way to manage a comment section. LOL, it sent mine to approval too. Sorry SA.
on February 18,2014 | 07:37AM
cojef wrote:
Used the word, 3rd-World in text, which is no no when referencing it to a favored country??
on February 18,2014 | 02:15PM
cojef wrote:
See it was just rejected because used 3rd in referring to a country emerging and joining the modern world.
on February 18,2014 | 02:17PM
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