PH gov’t told to clamp down on online sex exploitation of children

Sen. Loren Legarda has stressed the importance of effective and sustained law enforcement in reducing cases of online trafficking of children for sexual exploitation.

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Legarda, author of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and its expanded version, made the statement during her privilege speech on ending online sexual exploitation of children.

“Trafficking of children for sexual exploitation, whether done online or on the street or in bars, is a business even if it is against the law. However, if criminals know that laws are routinely enforced and that they will go to jail, they will get out of the business of selling children because it will not be worth it anymore,” she said.

In her privilege speech, Legarda narrated stories of children who were sexually abused in livestream videos for paying customers.

Online sexual exploitation of children or OSEC is the heinous act of livestreaming or broadcasting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children via the internet through a webcam, or any other device, for the satisfaction of another, usually a pedophile from abroad, who directs and purchases the livestreamed online sexual abuse of children.

In rescue missions conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), supported by the International Justice Mission — a non-profit organization that partners with Philippine law enforcement agencies in rescuing victims, restoring them, and securing justice for sexually exploited children — more than 273 victims have been rescued in 77 operations with over 87% of those rescued victims under the age of 18.

The average age of the rescued victim is 12 years old and victims below 12 years of age make up more than half, or 52%, of all victims rescued in OSEC.

Legarda said that the IJM noted a decrease in the prevalence of OSEC after law enforcement authorities enforced anti-trafficking laws, particularly in Metro Cebu (79% decrease in 2010), Metro Manila (75% decrease in 2016), and Angeles City (86% decrease in 2016).

Legarda said that the Philippines has enough laws and has national anti-trafficking units in place that are mandated to specifically combat trafficking and OSEC, namely, the PNP Women and Children Protection Center and the NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division.

It also has the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking or IACAT that coordinates all the efforts to enforce the country’s trafficking laws.

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