NBI tracking Facebook sex ring

By Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 05 2012 08:24 PM | Updated as of Nov 06 2012 04:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The people behind a suspected prostitution service on Facebook can be identified through the social media site's help, a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) official said Monday.

NBI head agent Palmer Mallari, head of the bureau's technical intelligence division, told ANC they are coordinating with Facebook to identify the administrators and members of an alleged prostitution group on the social media website.

"We are looking at the one who actually created it," he said.

Mallari said the NBI has "good experiences with Facebook" with regard to tracing crime suspects.

"In some cases, they would forward to us information that would be very vital in identifying (the offender)," he said.

"The moment the IP address is given by Facebook, we would already know the internet service provider (ISP). The moment we send a subpeona to the ISP, the ISP can give us the internet account (of the suspect)," he added.

Mallari said people behind the "Under One Roof" Facebook prostitution group can be prosecuted under Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

"This type of modus operandi has been (existing) for several years already," the NBI official said.

The Facebook group features women who allegedy engage in prostitution. They post their pictures and contact numbers in the group, which allegedly serves as a venue where they can get customers.

Section 10 of RA 9208 states: "Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 5 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00)."

The operator of the group could face a 15-year jail term.

Mallari said the use of Facebook to promote the sex trade also violates RA 9208's Section 5C.

However, he said authorities can't use the Anti-Cybercrime Law at the moment because of the temporary restraining order imposed by the Supreme Court.