True cruelty | Inquirer Opinion
Editorial

True cruelty

/ 04:49 AM August 02, 2011

What exactly is a “crush video”? The innocuous name belies the horror of its being. A crush video is fetish footage of young women, attired in lingerie or bikinis, tormenting and then killing small animals. And there is apparently a thriving and illicit trade in these videos around the world—and that trade has now expanded to the Philippines.

The vigilant People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia-Pacific and the Animal Welfare Coalition alerted local law enforcement to the existence of these crush videos after an alarmed Russian citizen clued them in. The creators of the crush videos, identified after the e-mail address they used in the sale of the videos was traced, were Victor and Dorma Ridon from Bacnotan, La Union. They were found to be maintaining a website where you could buy one of the 68 crush videos for $80.

What were the sexual perverts buying? The videos showed Filipinas wounding and then killing one of a selection of captive creatures: dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, snakes and frogs. The women employed a variety of methods: piercing a dog’s eyes with a stiletto heel or scalding it with a clothes iron or even hacking its legs off. A rabbit had its ears cut off and was stepped on repeatedly until its guts fell out. It was then burned alive.

And as if what they already had on the site wasn’t weird enough, the website promised a customized crush video tailored to a customer’s specific tastes—whatever those may be.

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The National Bureau of Investigation’s Environmental and Wildlife Protection and Investigation Unit has charged the Ridons with multiple violations of Republic Act No. 8485, also known as the Animal Welfare Act, among other charges. This act states that it is unlawful “for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care … kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.” A warrant of arrest has been issued for the couple. The website has since been shut down, but the website owners remain at large.

Now Peta has upped the ante, offering a P100,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the Ridons, increasing the pressure on the website owners.

The Ridons have also been charged with exploiting the young Filipinas appearing in the videos. Rochelle Regodon, Peta’s campaigns manager, explained that the girls appearing on the video were between the ages of 12 and 18 and paid anywhere from P100 to P1,000. They had been originally hired to take care of the Ridons’ children. Peta’s special projects coordinator Jane Sevilla said that most of the girls were not in school and came from poor families. Thus Peta also filed charges against the Ridons for violating Section 9 of RA 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, as well as RA 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Peta, however, rued that the country’s law against animal cruelty imposes only a maximum of two years in jail and a P2,000 fine on those found guilty of harming animals.

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Any sane person would be outraged by just the description of what these videos contain. One doesn’t have to be an animal lover to recoil in horror after viewing these perverted products. But these videos also have another terrible purpose: to exploit the vulnerable young women who, because of poverty, are paid a pittance to do things no ordinary Filipino should be asked to do. They are told to inflict unreasonable pain on other living creatures for the profit and the sick satisfaction of others.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Buhay party-list Rep. Irwin Tieng have filed separate resolutions seeking to prohibit the creation or sale of the crush videos. This should set off a nationwide campaign to stamp out exploitation of all kinds. Those who have knowledge of where the fugitives are hiding should now step forward and point out where they are so that they can answer the charges filed against them. For the rest of us, it would be the perfect time to wake up to a new day where we can be kind and caring to our fellow man and to all creatures big and small who share the country and the world with us.

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TAGS: Animal Welfare Act, Animal Welfare Coalition, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, La Union, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

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