CHR seeks swift passage of proposed law vs children’s online abuse, exploitation

Published May 25, 2021, 11:05 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked Congress to approve immediately the bill against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) with the rise in such cases since the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR website)

Senate’s version on OSAEC, under Bill No. 2209, has been approved on second reading.

Published reports stated that the House of Representatives’ counterpart bills are slated for hearing on Thursday, May 27.

CHR Spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that OSAEC cases have significantly increased because of COVID-19. In fact, she said, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that there was a 264.6 percent increase in OSAEC cases from May 2020 to March 2021 alone.

With the bill’s progress in the Senate, De Guia said the government is finally taking a step towards providing better protection of children — especially online where they face constant threats, even at home.

“The proposed anti-OSAEC Act strengthens our law enforcers’ capacity in pursuing perpetrators and lays down additional duties to media platforms and internet service providers to block and remove child sexual abuse or exploitation material within 24 hours from receipt of notice,” she said.

Trafficking and online exploitation of children constitute grave violations of children’s rights, and the CHR is continuously denouncing such violations, she stressed.

Aside from the participation of law enforcement units, De Guia said the “CHR believes that a holistic approach is needed in battling OSAEC — this means both the government and the society work together in raising awareness against the exploitation of children and remain vigilant against the proliferation of child pornography and abuse.”

“Today, we are reminded of our steadfast commitment for the protection of the most vulnerable members of our society. Our call is for everyone to press on and not shrink from our duties in providing protection for children against exploitation,” she added.

Last Sunday, May 23, the Child Rights Network (CRN), the country’s largest alliance for child protection, urged lawmakers to provide sufficient funds and support programs on the proposed OSAEC Law.

“As the anti-OSAEC Bill moves a step closer to becoming law, we call on our legislators to ensure that ample support programs and measures for children, families and communities most vulnerable to OSAEC be soundly established through the proposed bill, and supported by providing said programs with sufficient funding,” the CRN said in a statement.