Amid the nationwide celebration of the National Awareness Week for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse this second week of February, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the government to counter the threat of artificial intelligence (AI) in exacerbating online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).
Gatchalian made this call as the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Undersecretary Angelo Tapales sounded the alarm on this new species of predators and the proliferation of children’s images that are altered using AI, which could worsen child exploitation. While other countries already have reports on the use of AI for child exploitation, the CWC official said the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center is yet to receive such reports.
“Habang patuloy na nagiging moderno ang teknolohiya, nakaka-alarmang patuloy din na nakakahanap ng mga makabagong paraan ang mga nais mang abuso ng ating mga kabataan. Mahalagang tugunan natin ang mga bantang ito at tiyaking sino mang gumagamit sa internet o teknolohiya upang abusuhin ang ating mga kabataan ay mananagot sa batas,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Two laws empower the government to crack down on OSAEC: the Anti-OSAEC and Anti-CSAEM Act (Republic Act No. 11930) and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 (Republic Act No. 11862). To implement these two laws, P30 million was allotted under the 2024 national budget for Anti-Trafficking in Persons Enforcement.
“Nananawagan din ako sa ating mga magulang na bantayan nang maigi ang kanilang mga anak pagdating sa paggamit ng mga gadgets, lalo na’t maaaring maging daan ito upang makuha ang kanilang mga larawan at magamit sa iba’t ibang paraan ng karahasan at pang-aabuso,” the senator emphasized.
In a hearing last year on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), it was revealed that the Philippines is the second largest hotspot of OSAEC worldwide. In the same hearing, Gatchalian called for the cultivation of bilateral relationships with other countries, which could improve coordination and communication on combating OSAEC.