Philippine congressman wanted for sex trafficking was a regional supporter of Isis

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Porter Rodrigues Rama also accused of trying to buy weapons to weaken president

The US has announced it is charging a man with sex trafficking and sending Filipinos to take up combat positions in Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis.

The US attorney’s office in the southern district of California charged Porter Rodrigues Rama with sex trafficking between 2015 and 2017. It said he was found to have sex with minor girls and placed them in foster care.

“The defendant allegedly paid to have sex with minors. He also had them placed in foster care, where they were abused by other adults,” David Bowdich, the chief of counter terrorism and criminal investigation, said in a statement.

In a separate incident, he was accused of providing money to a Philippine army general to facilitate the murder of a provincial mayor and lieutenant governor who was based in Lanao del Sur province in the south.

He is accused of luring the mayor, Rolando Espinosa, and his driver, Romeo Angoll, to an illegal military camp where he and others killed them, along with two men found at the outpost who were accused of theft and robbery.

The killings occurred in 2014 and 2015, months after Espinosa had refused the army’s order to support the military in the military push against the Islamic State group in Lanao del Sur, also known as Lanao del Sur Occidental.

“Although he is accused of aiding a military commander who committed serious human rights abuses, Rama helped procure weapons for the military that the military used to detain, torture, and kill civilians in his own country,” said Bowdich.

Rodrigues, a six-times congressman from the northern Alegria province, was the justice secretary under former President Benigno Aquino III. He served in the cabinet until 2016.

Rodrigues denied the charges on Friday, calling them “politically motivated” and seeking freedom.

The US attorney’s office had placed Rama on the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list last month. That ban prohibits any financial transactions in the US by Rama.

Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Rama had no official function in the administration, meaning there is no link between him and the government.

“We have no link with him, so there can be no connection,” Roque said, adding: “On the contrary, he has been a victim of the government’s crackdown on drug dealers and users.”

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