Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas asked the Department of Justice Friday what it has done to address the recent huge spike in online sexual exploitation of children amid the country's notoriously slow Internet service.
"Alam naman po natin, hindi dito 'yan, transnational na actually 'yung mga cases na 'yan eh. Galing pa sa ibang bansa 'yung mga market, 'yung mga kumukuha ng ganyan at nag-aabuse sa atin (We know that it's not based here, those are transnational cases. The market is foreign-based, and so are the predators that abuse us)," Brosas told DoJ officials in her interpellation in the House Committee on Appropriations hearing on the DoJ's proposed budget of P22.572 billion for 2021.
"Tapos ang tindi din ng kalagayan natin kasi kahit na mahina 'yung ating Internet, nagagawa paring mang-abuso ng mga predators or 'yung nagpe-prey sa mga bata dito sa Pilipinas. Napakahirap ng kalagayan ng buhay natin dito at 'yung mga taong naghihirap, 'yun 'yung kanilang napupuntahan na trabaho (Our situation is so severe in that predators are still able to prey on children despite our poor Internet. Life is hard here and those who are poor resort to that job)," she said.
Citing a DoJ report last May, Brosas noted that the OSEC cases during the lockdown jumped by a disturbing 264 percent. The average age of the 381 victims linked to these cases was 11, she said.
The Makabayan solon said that under the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP), there are allocations like the P1.05 million for the special protection, P67.78 million for anti-trafficking of persons, and P23.29 million for anti-cybercrime enforcement that could be tapped to address the rise in OSEC.
Brosas asked the DoJ what actions it has taken so far regarding the problem.
"Marami po kaming rescue operations na ginagawa para sa mga batang nagiging biktima ng trafficking at online sexual exploitation even during lockdown (We have done numerous rescue operations for child victims of trafficking and online sexual exploitation even during lockdown)," bared DoJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar.
She said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) -- through their participation in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) -- carry out investigations to pinpoint the location of OSEC victims. Rescue operations can be launched within 24 hours of the confirmation of location, Villar said.
"Bukod po doon sa mga rescue operations at investigations, mayroon din po tayong media campaign online para mapalaganap ang awareness sa krimen ng OSEC (Aside from the rescue operations and investigations, we also have an online media campaign to increase awareness regarding OSEC crimes)," she added.
The rise in OSEC cases have been a growing concern among House members. In order to further the protection of children, Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles recently filed House Bill (HB) No. 7633 or the Anti-Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act of 2020.
One of the provisions of the pending law bars foreign nationals who have committed any sex-related offenses from entering the Philippines.