CRN urges passage of bill to better protect children against online abuse, exploitation

Published January 27, 2022, 1:51 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Child Rights Network

The Child Rights Network (CRN) prodded Congress to pass the bill that would further amend the country’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 to better protect children from online abuse and exploitation.

CRN Convenor Romeo Dongeto said that House Bill No. 10658 which was passed by the House of Representatives on second reading last Jan. 25 is on the right track to provide enhanced protection to children.

“We thank our champion legislators in the House of Representatives for finally heeding our call to pass this draft bill before the whole of Congress draws to a halt and dive deep into the election campaign season,” Dongeto said in a statement.

“This act sends a message to advocates and the public that children’s rights remain at the very core of our legislative process, and opens the year 2022 on a high note,” he said.

The 2002 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act had been amended in 2012 by RA 10364 which expanded the coverage of the original legislation.

House Bill 10658 would provide a broader net to trafficking in persons since it will include online offenses, online sexual abuse, engagement in pornography, as well as the production, sale, and distribution of child sexual abuse and exploitation materials, CRN said.

It said the proposed legislation took into consideration the use of technology that would allow law enforcement agents to use court-authorized wiretaps in conducting investigations involving child trafficking and online sexual exploitation.

Also, it said, the bill will cover the partnership between the government and the private sector to block child sexual abuse and exploitation materials and make sure that technological safeguards are set up to avoid recruitment and trafficking.

“We are a step closer towards expanding legal protection not only for the children of today but for generations to come,” Dongeto said.

“The grim days when sexual predators have freely operated both online and offline are about to end. To our dear legislators, we are at the home stretch, we trust that we will have a new law passed at the soonest possible time,” he added.