The government will go all out to address the growing cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) following two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with expanding internet connectivity even in the low-income bracket of society.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday several agencies will go after those who cooperate directly or indirectly in OSEC acts.
“The only sure deterrent would be certainty of punishment for those who will insist in exploiting children,” DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said during the inter-agency press conference against OSEC at Malacañang.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo said that in some cases, parents are also involved in the commission of abuses.
“Kung lingid po sa kaalaman ho ninyo, ‘pag pumunta ka sa isang website about sa mga bata, iyong mga pedophile sa overseas, makikita ninyo ho doon na karamihan ng mga bata bagama’t walang mga mukha, tinatakpan, bini-blur pero pinagsasayaw-sayaw hubo’t hubad iyong bata. Ang mga kumukuha pa, unfortunately, the videos are being taken by their own parents at ibinibenta (For everyone’s information, there is an onlite site which features photos of naked children. Pedophiles overseas make them dance naked. Unfortunately, parents are the ones who take the videos and sell them),” Tulfo said.
Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, maintained by the United States, identified the Philippines as the top “producer” of child sexual abuse materials, which grew from 1.3 million in 2020 to 3.1 million in 2021.
Tulfo said poverty and all the issues arising from it is one of the causes of such abuses.
Medardo De Lemos, Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), said that since 2019, the agency has secured 29 convictions in OSEC cases and has 46 ongoing investigations on child pornography.
He said the NBI has established tracking and anti-human trafficking groups and designated contact persons throughout the country for the online monitoring of OSEC cases
“We are cooperating with our counterparts outside the country and payment centers where the money is coursed through because the victims are here and the predators outside the country,” De Lemos said.
Remulla said the Anti-Money Laundering Council is going after the money trail of payments for video streaming of child abuse and pornography.
Talks are also underway for internet providers and telecommunications companies to put up safety precautions.
On DSWD’s part, Tulfo said once the victims are rescued from their abusers, they will be placed under the custody of the Council for the Welfare of Children.
“We will be the ones to take care of them and you (abusers) will never see them again,” he said.
Remulla said rising OSEC cases in the country are “a source of shame” and the government is committed in stopping them.
“Lahat ng puwedeng gawin (We will do everything that can be done) and we’re not leaving any stone unturned,” he said.
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