By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Social Welfare and Development assured the public on May 28 that it is in close contact with the enforcement authorities to run after the online sexual predators who victimize children.
The Department made the commitment after a study, led by International Justice Mission (IJM) showed that there is dramatic rise in the prevalence of internet-based child sexual exploitation in the country.
“The threat of COVID-19 has not diminished the commitment of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to address the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” it said in a statement.
The DSWD chairs the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP), which was created by Republic Act No. 9775 or the “Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.”
“Even during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Department, together with partner agencies, continuously conducts dialogues and rescues to ensure the safety of Filipino children online and offline,” it added.
Based on the ground-breaking study released on May 21 titled “Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry and Civil Society”, “the estimated prevalence rate of internet-based child sexual exploitation in the Philippines more than tripled – from 43 out of every 10,000 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used for child sexual exploitation in 2014 to 149 out of every 10,000 in 2017.”
The DSWD said it recognized that “online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is a growing crime that requires a coordinated global and national response, especially in these times when children are in lockdown with traffickers and offenders are spending more time online.”
“In this time of pandemic, the DSWD, as chair of IACACP, emphasized that it is even more crucial to closely monitor the safety of children even inside their homes,” it said.
The IJM-led study declared that the Phililpines as a “global hotspot” for OSEC, as it received more than eight times as many referrals as any other country during the 2010-2017 baseline period.
“To address OSEC in the country, DSWD is closely working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to track and apprehend the perpetrators and rescue the victims of this heinous act,” the DSWD said.
“DSWD is also working with the local government units (LGUs), especially with the Local Councils for the Protection of Children (LCPCs), to increase awareness, prevention, and early detection of OSEC cases,” it said.
The Department said those rescued OSEC victims are placed in DSWD custody and provided with psychosocial interventions.
It assured assistance to trafficked persons under the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP).
It noted that in 2019, DSWD has served over 1,600 victims of trafficking of whom 1,297 were females and 395 were males.
The DSWD asked the public to keep an eye on all form of abuses committed against children and report them to the authorities.
“It also encouraged the community to be vigilant and immediately report to the authorities all forms of abuses against children.”
The Department said it can be reached thru the following hotlines:
DSWD Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP) Hotline (02) 8931-9141;
Text DSWD <space> blockchildporn<space> URL address and send to 2327or Text blockchildporn <space> URL address and send to 0918-9122813;
Commission on Filipino Overseas TIP Hotline 1343;
PNP Patrol 911;
PNP Women and Children Protection Center: 0919 777 7377;
PNP Anti Cybercrime Group: Tel. No. (02) 723-0401 local 5354 Fax No. (02) 414-1560, 0926-084-3792
NBI: (02) 523-8231 to 38 local 3454 to 3455; and
DOJ-Office of Cybercrime Tel. (02) 524-82-16.