With the conclusion of the National Awareness Week on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Exploitation, Senator Win Gatchalian is reiterating his call for a stronger crackdown on various forms of child trafficking, including the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).
Gatchalian pointed out that cracking down on child traffickers entails effective enforcement of laws that took effect last year: the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 (Republic Act No. 11862) and the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act (Republic Act No. 11930).
The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022, which Gatchalian co-authored and co-sponsored, gives law enforcers additional tools to pursue human traffickers both online and offline. Under the law, internet intermediaries such as social media networks and financial intermediaries will be liable for allowing the use of their platforms for trafficking.
The Anti-OSAEC and Anti-CSAEM Act, which Gatchalian also co-authored, also gives law enforcers additional tools for the surveillance and investigation of OSAEC cases. It likewise increases the responsibilities of social media platforms, electronic service providers, and financial intermediaries, among others, to block CSAEM materials and cooperate with law enforcers.
“Tungkulin nating ipatupad ang mga batas upang matiyak ang kaligtasan ng ating mga kabataan mula sa iba’t ibang anyo ng trafficking. Tungkulin nating tulungan ang mga biktima na makabangon muli at magkaroon ng pag-asa,“ said Gatchalian.
According to the report Disrupting Harm in the Philippines: evidence on online child sexual abuse and exploitation, 20% of internet users aged 12-17 in the Philippines were victims of grave online sexual abuse and exploitation in 2021. When scaled to the size of the population, it is revealed that up to 2 million were subjected to these harms. The study had 950 respondents.
In the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report by the United States State Department, the Philippines was able to retain its Tier 1 Status. This means the Philippines was able to meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The report, however, identified persisting needs such as additional personnel and additional training on handling digital evidence. It also recommended increased support for programs providing specialized care for trafficking victims, including victims of OSAEC.