MANILA, Philippines – Despite available laws to combat child pornography and online sex abuse, the country’s problem on online sexual predators still persisted because of at least three reasons, including foreign nationals’ easy to access to the country, according to a Philippine envoy to the United Nations.
During an interagency press conference on Tuesday, August 23, Nikki Teodoro, Philippines’ special envoy to the United Nations Children’s Fund, also blamed the COVID-19 lockdown for the rise of online child sexual abuses. The press conference also included the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police.
“One, because it’s easy to come to the country. You don’t need a visa. Two, lockdown played a big part of parents actually marketing their children online for profit,” Teodoro said.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, who was present in the presser, also attributed the rise of online sexual abuse cases to the pandemic. He said many families have lost their livelihood during the onset of COVID-19.
Based on government data, law enforcement agencies were able to conduct a total of 227 operations against online sexual exploitation of children from 2017 to 2022. The number peaked the highest in 2020, with 62 operations.
A total of 198 cases have been filed in the span of five years. To date, only 67 people have been convicted, according to the government.
Aside from immigration policies and the pandemic, Teodoro added that technology also played in the persistence of online sexual abuse.
“The fact that it’s easy to put up a site, you put one, you can have 10 at the same time. So technology that made it easier for these perpetrators to market their children or our children. And it’s gotten easier and it’s gotten more lucrative.”
Last August 3, the anti-online sexual abuse and exploitation of children bill lapsed into law. The new law will speed up cybercrime probes, according to the National Bureau of Investigation. – Rappler.com