Explicit videos of two young girls in Narra engaged in obscene acts are circulating on private Facebook chatrooms and Tiktok, leaving social welfare and law enforcement authorities perplexed as to who instigated their illicit distribution.

This disturbing story came to our attention after a concerned resident asked Palawan News to help in pressuring authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into their case, claiming that sharing their videos essentially condones their online sexual exploitation, which could have long-term mental consequences for them.

We also have a copy of one of these videos pero hindi ko kinayang tapusin ang panonood. I’ve seen numerous video recordings in my work as a journalist, but nothing prepared me for what I saw in theirs.

I had to stop watching as it was very upsetting.

Another source said a foreigner interacted with the two girls online and offered them money in exchange for sexy selfies and explicit videos. And, being naïve, they couldn’t say no to the amount they were offered: P3,000 for each picture and P30,000 for each video they could submit.

Sino namang menor de edad na wala pang kamuwang muwang at kakayanang maging mapagmatyag at mapanuri para iligtas ang sarili ang makakatanggi?

Online predators commonly use money and other expensive presents to attract their unwary victims, especially if they are impoverished and have no other means to buy what they want. According to experts who have researched why young people readily fall prey to them, this is characterized as “grooming” to destroy their moral fiber.

By breaking down their walls, groomers will gain their trust and persuade them to do what they desire. They form connections with their young victims and manipulate them until they win in making them believe they care about them more than their parents.

As a parent of a minor, wouldn’t you be worried about who they’re meeting online and how they’re being influenced?

Gets naman din natin na importante in this pandemic time ang internet since physically attending school is still not allowed.

COVID-19 has made connectivity more essential for young people to engage in new learning modalities, but it has also increased their risk of being exposed to violent and pornographic content. Children, teens, and young adults are targeted via the many gaming platforms, social media sites, and apps they access and use if their privacy settings are disabled or poorly configured.

Sure, some mobile features and apps can limit what they see online, but they’ve become so adept at handling devices and making their way around these social networking sites that you have no idea what they can do and undo when they are on their own.

Unfortunately, many parents are unable to keep up since they are not technologically savvy and are also busy working.

Paano na?

My niece is in her pre-adolescent years, which is why this story is personal to me. I told my brother and sister-in-law that she may only use the smartphone my sister and I gave her as a Christmas present if they’re with her and she’s monitored.

When we have time to chat (usually on weekends), we tell her about “stranger danger,” or the potential that all strangers are dangerous, and that she should avoid them on the web or wherever they approach her and initiate a conversation with her.

We’d soon be unable to stop her from creating her social media accounts. We are aware of this, which is why we have already started discussing the hazards of the cyberworld with her so she would be wiser in safeguarding herself if someone engages her in anything she is unaware is a threat to her.

Mahirap ito talaga, pero walang masama if uumpisahan na nang dahan-dahan in their pre-teen years. Give them situations to help them realize that being pushed to do something uncomfortable is a warning that they’re at risk and that they should terminate the interaction immediately.

Her parents understand the need to develop a strong connection with my niece for her to trust them and not be hesitant to speak up about what she sees or encounters online. They have daily communication routines that allow her to talk about her experiences so that she can comprehend them and not get lost in her interpretations as she grows older.

Ako at ang sister ko, we both actively contribute to educating her about the dangers lurking in the shadows of the online world to help prevent her from falling victim to these unscrupulous individuals.

The girls in Narra aren’t to blame for what happened to them. They may seem confident in the videos, but that does not mean they understand the implications of what they were persuaded to do.

Even their parents, I believe, are not to blame since hindi nga sila digitally knowledgeable as today’s youth. Add to this the fact that they need to work para may makain, paano nga naman nila mababantayan ang mga ginagawa ng anak nila?

Social welfare authorities should assist in preserving their children’s mental health since this is a serious issue that may affect their whole future. Tulungan sana sila na hindi magka-trauma ang mga bata, ganoon din ang magulang.

It’s not difficult to organize campaign drives to teach parents how to protect their minor children online. It may be launched in areas (like the two barangays in Narra) where there is a low level of internet awareness.

The police, on the other hand, should leave no stone unturned in determining who disseminated their videos and holding them accountable if they’re adults.

Krimen yan, hindi ba?

If they’re minors, what they did should be addressed with them in-depth so that they understand how their involvement in the two girls’ continued victimization is not tolerable.

Baka nga sila ay biktima rin.

When it comes to social media, the number of netizens with a high degree of knowledge and humanity pales in comparison to those who have nothing better to do, say, or remark on.

They denigrate the victims, shaming them by constantly recounting what they went through at the hands of the perpetrators, calling them stupid, and all for what purpose?

Anong masaya sa gawin ito?

Mema lang in the language of the internet.

When you have to place blame on the victims rather than the offender, it doesn’t help. This is exactly why the perpetrators are not prosecuted kasi yong mga biktima when shamed in public, ayaw na magsalita. Ipinahiya niyo na, eh.

Mas marami pang mabibiktima.

Sana huwag mangyari sa sino man sa kapamilya mo.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.