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MANILA, Philippines – Since the passage of the law banning online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in July, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) together with telecommunications company PLDT have blocked at least 20 websites proliferating abusive material, Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday, October 20.
Hontiveros called it a “very positive development” in the country’s fight against OSAEC.
Citing the NBI Cybercrime division, Hontiveros said in a release that PLDT immediately took action on the NBI’s request to take down abusive websites. The NBI also reportedly said that there are more pictures and links that can be taken down.
Hontiveros’ office provided a screenshot of an email from PLDT addressed to NBI Director Medardo de Lemos. The telco said that it had already blocked the provided URLs.
However, PLDT said it was unable to preserve digital evidence, as the telco did not own the servers involved.
The PLDT email said the telco received the NBI’s September 13 request via email almost a month later – October 11. PLDT informed the NBI that it had blocked the websites two days later, on October 13.
Hontiveros thanked the NBI and PLDT, as part of the private sector, for their swift action.
“It gives me joy to see all of us working together to truly shut down OSAEC. Dahil sa ating pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa, tiyak na mas marami tayong mapagtatagumpayan para sa ating mga anak (Because of our cooperation and unity, we will certainly achieve more for our children),” she said.
The senator appealed to the public to report OSAEC cases to law enforcers such as the NBI.
The OSAEC law lapsed into law on July 30 following a long battle by lawmakers and advocates. For six years, the Philippines has been a mainstay on Tier 1 of the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which means that it fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons.
The 2022 TIP report recognized Philippine efforts to fight trafficking, such as rescuing more victims than in 2020, drafting standard operating procedures for the identification and monitoring of trafficking-related corruption cases, and the establishment of the new Department of Migrant Workers.
However, OSAEC has remained prevalent in the country for reasons such as easy entry into the country, widespread poverty, cheap internet and smartphones, ability to speak English well, and the wide availability of money remittance centers, among others.
Before the passage of the OSAEC law, the Philippines was limited to penalizing offenders who committed crimes that fell under the scope of related measures, including laws preventing child pornography and cybercrime.
But these laws did not capture the full range of OSAEC activities, such as recruitment, stages of commission, and participation in the offense. Livestreaming of sexual abuse was also not covered in the 2009 anti-child pornography law. Under the new law, livestreaming OSAEC is declared unlawful.
To report cases of OSAEC, call 1343 for Metro Manila and 02-1343 for outside Metro Manila. You can also report cases online at www.1343actionline.ph. – Rappler.com