Gov’t taps TikTok, PLDT, Smart in drive vs online sexual abuse, exploitation of children

Published February 8, 2022, 4:42 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The government has tapped telecommunications companies, TikTok creators, and an international human rights group in its fight against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

In a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said:

“The Department of Justice – Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT), Philippine National Police – Woman and Children Center (PNP-WCPC) — International Justice Mission (IJM), TikTok, Philippine Long Distance Telephone, Inc., and Smart Communications, Inc. joined hands to urge the public to take a stand against the livestreamed sexual abuse and exploitation of children.”

The DOJ said the campaign was launched as the world celebrates Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

“Our Safer Internet Day campaign dubbed #NotOnOurScreens aims to cultivate a culture of vigilance against the trafficking of Filipino children through the creation and propagation of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM),” it said.

It added that “influential TikTok creators participated in the campaign by posting informational videos and directing users to PNP-WCPC hotlines.”

The PNP-WCPC also runs a 24-hour Facebook page helpline called “AlengPulis” where people can report online sexual exploitation of children and other incidents of abuse and exploitation of women and children.

Among the TikTok creators tapped, the IJM was able get the help of lawyer Cherie Maryse Alcantara and Jan Abigail Maravilla.

The DOJ statement said that Alcantara created and posted videos about the nature of online sexual exploitation of children and its legal consequences for perpetrators, while Maravilla, known for her educational tech-related videos, underscored the critical role of technology and financial sector in the detection, disruption, and prevention of livestreamed child sexual exploitation.

“We are also delighted to work alongside one of the world’s largest social media platforms, TikTok, and the country’s largest telecommunication company, PLDT and Smart, in making the internet safer for every Filipino child,” said lawyer Samson Inocencio Jr., regional vice president of IJM Programs Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.

On the part of the telecommunications giant, PLDT and Smart, First Vice President and Group Head for Corporate Communications Cathy L. Yap-Yang said the telecommunications giant “support the IJM and the Philippine government in their efforts to continuously broaden the coalition against online sexual exploitation of Filipino children.”

“Driven by our pioneering Child Safeguarding Policy, we have also rolled out child online safety education to over 37,000 stakeholders and implemented capacity-building interventions for barangay councils for the protection of children in most affected areas,” Yang said.

The executive also cited that the company was also to able “to block access to an accumulation of over 179,000 uniform resource locators (URLs) linked to online child abuse through our network-embedded Child Protection Platform, as of Jan. 31.”

DOJ-IACAT Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar pointed out that the online sexual exploitation of children as “the worst form of trafficking today.”

“More than ever, there is a greater need now to stay alert against this crime,” she stressed.

“We at IACAT call on the public to help fight this crime by reporting it to authorities,” she added.

She said that in 2021, the DOJ had 138 convictions based on IJM-supported operations.