Press Release
February 11, 2021

Awareness Week should prompt gov't on heightened crackdown vs. online child sexual abuse - Gatchalian

Amidst the observance of the National Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation every second week of February every year, Senator Win Gatchalian called on the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) to sustain and boost efforts to curb online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the country.

According to Gatchalian, this entails steps such as the continuous monitoring of internet service providers' (ISPs) compliance with the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 9775) following a surge of activities linked to OSEC.

For Gatchalian, the urgency on the part of lawmakers is to amend the country's anti-trafficking laws. Senate Bill No. 1794, which he filed, seeks to strengthen Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003) as amended by Republic Act No.10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012) to improve standards, guidelines, and methodologies on surveillance, interception, investigation, and prosecution of different forms of human trafficking.

The proposed measure provides that in cases involving child trafficking, regional trial courts can authorize law enforcers to conduct surveillance and record communications and information involving persons charged with or suspected of trafficking.

"Ang pagdami ng mga akitibidad na may kinalaman sa online sexual abuse laban sa mga kabataan ay naging parang isa na ring pandemya na kailangan nating masugpo. Maliban sa patuloy na pagtugis sa mga gumagawa ng mga krimeng ito, kailangan din nating patatagin ang ating mga batas upang mailigtas natin ang maraming nanganganib na mga kabataan," said Gatchalian.

The IACAT has reported that online tips on alleged OSEC activities rose from 1.2 million in 2020 or triple the 400,000 recorded in 2019.

Enforcement activities also increased last year. The Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) rescued 172 victims in 2020, higher than the 120 rescued in 2019. The number of victims that the National Bureau of Investigation's Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTD) rescued also rose from four in 2019 to 19 in 2020.

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