Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte is prodding outgoing President Duterte to sign into law a bill that will strengthen the protection of children against online abuse and sexual exploitation.
The House of Representatives and the Senate recently ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Act.
Villafuerte, in a statement Saturday, June 25, underscored the urgency of passing this law as he cited the alarming findings of the Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OOC).
According to the agency, there has been a whopping 264.6 percent rise in reports of Filipino children being sexually abused over the Internet by pedophiles in the period of March 1 to May 24, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
His proposal, which aims to impose stiffer penalties against Internet service providers (ISPs) found to have willing and knowingly allowed the use of their servers or facilities for child pornography, is outlined under House Bill (HB) No.7947, which he has filed in the outgoing 18th Congress.
Villafuerte’s bill was consolidated with other similar bills into HB No.10703.
“As sick as it may appear, as children stay at home due to quarantine restrictions, they are at further risk to online sex trafficking and exploitation. The perpetrators, other than the usual pimps and child traffickers, are sometimes the parents of the child victims themselves,” Villafuerte said.
“The Internet should be a safe space for our children especially now that we are more dependent on it for education. This bill seeks to provide more protection to our children and further increase its penalties over ISPs to further deter the commission of online child sexual exploitation crimes,” added the former House deputy speaker.
The Anti-OSAEC bill ratified by the Congress strengthens the protection for children by requiring internet intermediaries and other internet or payment service providers to take down or remove websites that stream illegal content of abuse of minors.
Also included are stiffer penalties for those involved in cases of child abuse and the formation of the National Coordinating Center against OSAEC.
President Duterte will step down from Malacañang on June 30, 2022.