The Australian government has announced funding worth nearly 300 million pesos to tackle online child sex abuse in the Philippines.
The initiative, called SaferKidsPH, will provide grants to the Australian Federal Police and a UN-led consortium that includes Save the Children Philippines and The Asia Foundation.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said the funding reflects Canberra’s commitment to assist Manila in protecting children.
“SaferKidsPH reinforces our commitment to support the Philippine government’s efforts to address this complex form of human trafficking,” he said in a speech today (Monday, April 15).
The National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children shows that at least one in two children aged 13 to 17 had experienced “cyber violence” in the Philippines.
Save the Children Philippines said that in many cases the co-principals or enablers of online abuse were the parents or guardian themselves.
“Many of the parents have come to think that there is no actual injury to the child because the perpetrators are so many thousands of miles away, but that’s not necessarily true,” said Albert Muyot, chief executive of the charity.
With the funding, Mr Muyot said the group would be increasing activities at the local level to further raise awareness of the problem.
The Asian Foundation, meanwhile, will focus on court systems and strengthening of the judicial sector’s capacity to be able to respond to such cases.
Aligned with the government’s goal to end violence against children by 2025, the six-year project will involve children, parents, local groups, businesses and media to promote online safety.
The 298 million peso initiative was signed by Ambassador Robinson and UNICEF representative Julia Rees at the Australian Embassy in Makati today.
Also today, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the Philippines needed a “war on pedophiles”.
In a tweet, he said he would raise the “rampant” online child sex abuse trade in the country before the UN.
“But all over the country, as I will report to the UN, pedophile trade is rampant, worse than the drug trade because sicker,” he said.
“We need a war on pedophiles and in general men who like young women and little boys.”
America’s FBI has listed Southeast Asia as one of the “hotspots” of child sex tourism, based on data from 2014 to 2016.
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