Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday, March 1, called on lawmakers to expedite the passage of a bill that seeks to protect children from online sexual exploitation which has become prevalent during this time of a COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s time to end this online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC),” Hontiveros said in pitching for Senate Bill No. 2068 or the proposed Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children or Anti-OSAEC law.
“Let’s continue to fight for our children and our youth. The world should know their innocence is not for sale,” said Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.
Even before the rise of technological advances, the senator lamented the Philippines has been a destination for sexual offenders who would target or manipulate Filipino women and children, particularly those from impoverished areas.
“Social media and the Internet aggravated this problem…we should find ways to solve the root cause of this problem: poverty. Nobody would be forced to sell their children if these people have access to livelihood and decent jobs, ” she pointed out.
“This Women’s Month, we offer this proposed law for our women, especially our young women who continue to become victims of violence and abuse,” the lawmaker added.
The bill primarily seeks to amend the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 and the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.
According to Hontiveros, these existing laws do not capture the extraordinary features of OSAEC since they do not address the need to protect young people from sexual online exploitation done through the Internet.
She also said the bill seeks to penalize in particular those who willfully subscribe to, join or support an internet address that hosts OSAEC content; those who hire, employ, or pay a facilitator to stream sexual abuse of children; and those who knowingly benefit from the commission of OSAEC, among many others.
The bill also imposes duties and responsibilities to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), social media networks, financial institutions and intermediaries, and establishments or facilities used for OSAEC.
“Bawat isa sa atin ay may responsibilidad para matigil na ito (Each of us has the responsibility to stop this). It takes an entire community to help put an end to OSAEC,” she stressed. “Successful OSAEC-related operations by our law enforcement would not have been possible without the cooperation of community members,” Hontiveros reiterated.