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UNICEF and Philippines government agencies commend long sentence of US paedophile who abused Filipino girls

5 March 2010, Manila - UNICEF, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Tourism today welcomed news that a predatory paedophile was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Florida court in the United States, for sexual abuse of two Filipino minors.

Donald Mathias, 64, subjected the girls then aged 11 and 12, to repeated sexual abuse during his visits to the Philippines in 2007 and 2008. With the mother’s help, Mathias made the girls sign a contract requiring them to be his “sex slaves”. The mother was paid thousands of dollars and assisted in filming Mathias committing the abusive acts.

UNICEF representative, Vanessa Tobin said:
‘Travelling child-sex offenders present a significant and growing threat in South East Asia, including the Philippines. This long sentence sends a strong message that child sexual abuse and exploitation will not be tolerated in the Philippines. We commend the continuing cooperation between the Philippines and other governments around the world in their efforts to stop this horrific crime from further endangering children in the Philippines.’

In accordance with the Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Philippines and the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) facilitated gathering of evidence against Mathias for presentation in court.

“The DOJ promptly coordinated with the witnesses and facilitated the provision of documentary evidence. Realizing the strength of the evidence against him, Mathias entered into a plea agreement” said Chief State Prosecutor Ricardo V. Paras of the DOJ. “The DOJ, as the Central Authority, will always provide assistance to other countries knowing how vital the documents, testimonies and other evidence are to the successful prosecution of criminals. Requests involving cases of abuse and exploitation of children will always be given utmost preference.”

The DOJ is now prosecuting the mother of the girls for violation of Republic Act No.9208, otherwise known as the Anti-trafficking in Person Act of 2009. If convicted she may face a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than two million pesos (P2,000,000.00).

In 2007, the Department of Tourism launched the ASEAN Regional Education Campaign against child sex tourism. Together with the ministries of tourism from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the regional campaign aims to raise awareness of child sex tourism and encourages tourists and locals to protect children in tourist destinations.

“In the Philippines, the campaign encourages people to call or text the national hotline  0919-7777377 to give information about child sexual abuse and exploitation or report suspicious behaviour by adults around children” says Director Maria Victoria Jasmin of the Department of Tourism.

Upon entering the country, passengers disembarking from aircraft will see a notice on the arrival/departure card which informs them about the campaign. It is hoped this will give a strong message to potential sex offenders entering the country that abuse of children will not be tolerated in the Philippines.

Notes: To report suspicious behaviour anyone can call the hotline +63 919 7777377. For further information on the ‘Child Wise Tourism’ campaign in the Philippines contact Director Maria Victoria Jasmin of the Department of Tourism.

Contact: Angela Travis, UNICEF, or 0917 8678366 or Marge Francia, UNICEF, or 09178589447



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