The Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DoJ-OoC) is concerned about rising cases of online child exploitation in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline Report, the spike of cases is the result of an increase in internet use as most people are confined to homes to prevent the spread of the virus.
The March 1-May 24, 2020 report showed there had been an increase of 202,605 cases of online child exploitation since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on March 17. The NCMEC also reported a 264.63 percent increase from 76,561 recorded in the same period in 2019.
In 2014, the DoJ-OoC was designated as Point-of-Contact (PoC) by NCMEC, a private and non-profit corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent victimization children.
The center is authorized by law in the United States to receive reports from electronic communication service providers, including Facebook, Yahoo! and Gmail, as soon as the information is collected that sexual exploitation is being conducted on children using its server or facility.
As the country’s PoC, the DoJ-OoC has direct access to the NCMEC Virtual Private Network. It is also notified each time there is a report for online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) related to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Justice Undersecretary Mark Perete is confident that Internet service providers will voluntarily comply with the law requiring them to install technology that will block or filter materials that exploit children. He said the legal obligation was automatically included in their franchisees and permits to operate.
The DOJ and police said that Facebook pages administrators that promote the sexual exploitation of children could be jailed for 17 years and four months. Those who would be found guilty would pay up to P1 million.
“And they realize, more than anyone, that without such technology, this trend of victimization of children who are the most vulnerable among us will remain unabated. To reduce the proliferation of and to prevent OSEC have been the aspiration of several government agencies and inter-agency committees involved in the formulation of policies that uphold every child’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and social well-being,” said Perete.