Sen. Imee Marcos said Friday that the incidence of sexual abuse and exploitation of children online could worsen amid fears over a new COVID-19 variant and the anticipated spike in infection rates after the holidays.
In a statement, she raised concern over the possibility of extended community quarantines and further exposure of children to online sexual predators.
“The delay in face-to-face classes will continue to expose grade school and high school children to these local and foreign sexual predators lurking on the Internet,” Marcos said.
Marcos has filed Senate Resolution No. 604 calling for a legislative inquiry on the continuing reports of child online sexual exploitation in the country, despite several laws protecting the rights of children.
In the resolution, she cited the reports that some students have offered “Christmas bundles” of lewd photos and videos to raise funds for their gadgets or Internet bills for distance learning.
The senator also mentioned a recent report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which revealed that suspicious transactions related to child pornography have increased to P113.1 million in the first half of 2020 from the P65.8 million in 2019.
The AMLC said suspicious transaction reports reached 27,217 from January to June 2020 compared to the 10,627 reported in 2019.
“The problem may have already grown to involve not only individual perverts but organized crime syndicates,” Marcos said.
She said: “The actions taken and progress achieved, or lack thereof, by the government and telecommunications firms to solve this growing problem must be made public.”