Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday, March 2, called out social media giants Facebook and Twitter for their absence in the Senate hearing on online abuse and exploitation of children, describing these platforms as a “crime scene” particularly of fake accounts committing criminal activities.
“These abuses are happening in plain sight for lack of a better term in these social media accounts. They’re making money out of these activities and sana man lang nagpadala ng representative dito sa ating hearing,” Pangilinan said during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.
The hearing discussed proposed measures on electronic violence against women and children, online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and potentially exploitative websites, among others.
“Why isn’t Facebook here? Are they even interested to address the challenges of violations of our children’s rights?” he asked.
“For the record, we very concerned about their absence. In fact, I am told, that Twitter is also a source of online exploitation. And they are also not here,” he added.
Sen. Pia Cayetano joined the call of Pangilinan for a separate hearing that would include the social media giants saying, “they must be held accountable for the role that they play.”
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, confirmed that the committee sent an invitation to Facebook and will ask them to provide an explanation for their absence.
Hontiveros said the committee will hold a separate hearing on the issue of reported Facebook-facilitated adoptions.
“We will consider holding them in contempt,” Hontiveros said after hearing the points raised by Pangilinan and Cayetano.
“The least they could have done is appear here before the committee and explain their own policies. And it’s most unfortunate that their absence here prevents us from getting their side,” Pangilinan said.
While Facebook has a marketing office in the Philippines, Twitter does not have a local presence in the country.
In the hearing, Pangilinan asked for information on cases filed against telcos and social media platforms on cybercrime.
“Sa end po ng anti-human trafficking division wala pa po. Yan nga po yung pinag-aaralan namin through the inter-agency council against child pornography. Kasi kailangan marami pa po kaming makuhang evidence para masampahan po namin ng kaso itong mga telcos, or mga social media platforms,” said Janet Francisco of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of the NBI.
Pangilinan suggested that the Department of Justice create a separate team to prepare the necessary case build-up and file cases if necessary.
“Kasi kung wala pang kaso, eh talagang they will treat us with almost contemptible behavior. Sana pag-aralan ninyo sino ang pwedeng managot dito sa mga telco o social media platform dito sa mga criminal activity na nangyayari affecting our children, Pangilinan said.