Senator Leila de Lima on Monday renewed her call for the Senate to look into the status of the implementation of existing laws that aim to protect children from any forms of sexual abuse and violence.
De Lima made the call following reports of operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit in Bicol rescuing 14 minors after raiding a cybersex den in Camarines Sur last May 7.
PLt. Angelo Babagay, team leader of the Camarines Sur Cyber Crime Response Team had confirmed that the youths recruited in the online child pornography operation by four suspected residents of Barangay San Antonio, ranged in ages from two to 17 years old.
Operatives said the victims were found to be children and nephews of the suspects. They were also able to seize pornographic materials as well as electronic gadgets used in the cybersex and online pornography.
De Lima, a staunch human rights activist, lamented that suspects are taking advantage of the community quarantine brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit children.
“The proliferation of cases of child cybersex abuses in the country requires serious attention and response from the government that is why I urge my esteemed colleagues in the Senate to act with dispatch on my proposed Senate Resolution No. 201, which I filed as early as 2019,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Because of the increasing poverty due to the pandemic, many Filipino families are forced to agree to being abused through the Internet to earn money,” she said in Filipino.
“Unfortunately, these innocent children are victimized by their own family members, especially since they are only staying inside their homes,” she pointed out.
De Lima said that while she is relieved to know the PNP managed to rescue the minors, the fight against cyber child sex abuse should not end there.
“The pervasive problem of child abuse and sex trafficking in the Philippines calls urgently for more vigilant, tougher and higher penalties to eradicate this growing industry of child exploitation,” she said.
She also said the government needs to ensure “that offenders are held accountable and due justice is delivered to the children.”
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 201, urging the Senate Committee on Women and Children to inquire into the unabated proliferation of child cybersex abuses in the country. The measure remains pending at the committee. [Hannah L. Torregoza]