De Lima urges gov’t to intensify fight vs online child sex abuse


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged authorities to intensify their efforts against rising reports of online sexual abuse against children in the Philippines to finally address the aggravating factors and root causes of child abuse in the country. 

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, likewise reiterated the need to review the status of implementation of existing laws on protecting children from abuses following release of data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) showing the rise this year of online sexual exploitation cases that are targeting and victimizing Filipino children.

“The continuous increase of online sexual abuse targeting minors only emphasizes the need for the government not just to investigate this alarming issue but also to review, assess and expand the implementation of the laws that are supposed to protect the Filipino youth and children,” she said.

“We must take this issue seriously because sexual predators have been taking advantage of the internet and the innocence of children, especially since the pandemic hit, to perform their illegal activities,” she added.

In its annual report, the DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime (OOC) said it received more than 2.8 million reports about online child sexual abuse this year, more than double the nearly 1.3 million reports in 2020.

The report added that they launched an official investigation of 268 cases of online sexual exploitation of children this year, almost four times the 73 cases it handled in 2020.

However, the DOJ’s anti-cybercrime unit noted that most of the 2.8 million reports it received were “not actionable” since these had been submitted multiple times or were “misleading” and erroneously reported.

“The DOJ OOC must ensure that they have better system in place to properly handle reports that will guarantee that no legitimate cases of child abuse will be left unaddressed,” she said.

Notably, the Philippines has been tagged as the global epicenter of livestream sexual trafficking of children based on data from the US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC).

In 2019, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 201 directing the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality to inquire into the continued proliferation of child cybersex abuses in the country.

In 2020, she filed a related Resolution, logged as SR No. 385, urging Congress to investigate the rising cases of cybersex abuses victimizing the youth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, De Lima filed SR No. 745 to investigate the reported surge of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) during the COVID-19 pandemic to hold perpetrators accountable and address the aggravating factors and root causes of child abuse in the Philippines.

“Kinakailangang tutukang maigi ang ganitong uri ng krimen, lalo pa’t ngayong panahon ng pandemya, mas madalas gumamit ng internet ang mga bata. Kailangang agarang aksyunan ang mga panukala nating resolusyon upang matukoy ang ugat ng lalong pagtaas ng kaso ng pang-aabuso at panagutin ang mga nasa likod nito,” De Lima said. (30)  

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