Press Release
March 9, 2021


09 March 2021

Magandang araw sa kanilang lahat.

Our appreciation goes to the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender and the Committee on Science and Technology for putting on schedule this public hearing.

With social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter functioning like an open freeway of information and communication, danger lurks by the second that our vulnerable children could become victims or have become victims of exploitation and abuse on these platforms.

Nakakalungkot at nakakagalit isipin ang katotohanan na base sa mga datos, nagagamit ang ilang social media sites gaya ng Facebook, Twitter sa bentahan ng mga larawan at video ng mga bata.

Para ka lang daw nag-o-online shopping. Maraming pagpipiliang litrato o video ng mga bata. Parang "add to cart" lang ang gagawin sa matitipuhang mga bata.

While data could indicate that the number of pieces of the exploitative content does not equal the number of victims, as the same content, potentially slightly altered could be shared repeatedly, one victim of this horrible crime is one too many.

According to global law enforcement data, the Philippines has become one of the largest known sources of online sexual abuse and exploitation cases.

According to a report released in May of 2020 by the Washington-based International Justice Mission (IJM), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, there was a consistent, sharp rise in the number of IP addresses used in child sexual exploitation from 23,000 in 2014 to 81,000 in 2017.

The report also confirmed UNICEF's findings that online-sexual exploitation of children was usually a "family-based crime" where the abuse was usually perpetrated by biological parents or other relatives of the victims.

Recently, the NBI revealed that the proliferation of commercial adoption in the country has also expanded online. Since last month, the NBI was reported to be working with the DSWD to track down the persons and groups behind 48 Facebook accounts that claim to facilitate online illegal adoption.

In 2019, NBI's International Operations Division has intercepted a group of child traffickers who were trying to sell an infant in a department store. Two of the perpetrators were the parents of the child while the others were brokers who set up a social media account to look for buyers and negotiate prices.

While we have a number of laws and statutes, the continued proliferation of online exploitation and abuse of our children in social media prompts us to take a look at these laws to see if there are gaps that can be filled in their implementation and to make these laws tougher and more responsive to the needs of the times.

As we take a close look at the efforts of our law enforcers, we would also like to find out actions taken by the social media platforms, proactive rather than reactive actions, in curbing if not eradicating the rampant criminality on their portals.

Unless social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google act aggressively to permanently address the criminal acts being committed using their platforms online, then pretty much these sites are party to the crime.

Using these social media platforms to abuse and harm our children is simply abhorrent and unacceptable.

And we have prepared a number of questions to our resource persons which we will raise later when our turn comes.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson and magandang araw sa kanilang lahat.

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