De Lima alarmed over ‘webcam child sex tourism’ in PH

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed alarm over the increasing number of children who are being lured to “webcam child sex tourism” (WCST) where they are paid to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam to foreigners through pay-per-view sessions.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 379 asking the appropriate Senate committee to look into the matter and assess whether there is a need to increase penalties against child pornography and exploitation.

“There is a need to investigate the continuous proliferation of cybersex dens in spite of numerous legislation against them, especially those that victimize, exploit and prey on children,” she said.

The Philippines has been touted as “a key hub of the billion-dollar global child cybersex industry” despite the existence of several laws against child pornography and exploitation.

Among these laws include Republic Act (RA) No. 9777, also known as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009; RA No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012; and RA 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.

The Senator from Bicol noted the recent spate of police raids on cybersex dens in Metro Manila and nearby provinces which put into serious doubts that implementation of the country’s laws to protect children against sexual abuses.

“In 2017 alone, numerous cybersex raids were conducted nationwide, during some of which minors were rescued,” she pointed out.

Last February, a cybersex den was raided in Tondo, Manila where one minor was rescued and five others were arrested for performing sexual acts to foreigners who pay in order to watch a live streaming video footage of children in front of a webcam.

Police authorities have also conducted separate raids of cybersex dens in Cavite and Bacolod in the past months where minors were rescued after they were forced to perform explicit sexual acts for men in Australia and US through via livestream.

The former justice secretary raised suspicion that WCST seems to be thriving rapidly in the country as the newest form of child exploitation due to the government’s failure to adequately enforce child protection laws.

“There is a need to review the state and efficacy of the implementation of current laws that protect our children from predatory acts by malevolent elements in our society,” she said. “There is (also) a need to review the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act to see whether there is need for amendatory legislation, including the possibility of imposing higher penalties for child pornography,” she added.

When she was justice secretary, De Lima chaired the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to coordinate efforts in implementing the principal laws against human trafficking, including all forms of slavery, forced labor and sexual exploitation.

The IACAT efforts resulted in the attainment of the Tier 1 Status in the annual US Trafficking in Persons Report in 2016 for having “fully met the minimum standards in eliminating human trafficking in the country.”

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