Guevarra vows IACAT will run after perpetrators of online sexual exploitation of children

(Philstar.com) – January 6, 2021 – 5:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra vowed that the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking will continue to run after perpetrators of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).

Guevarra made the statement following the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s report that suspicious transactions related to child pornography ballooned to P113.1 million in just half of 2020

The number is almost double of amount recorded in the same period in 2019, where the government recorded P65.8 million worth of transactions.

Guevarra said that the IACAT, co-chaired by the Departments of Justice and of Social Welfare and Development, “has been hot on the trail of OSEC perpetrators during the last few years.”

“The IACAT is very much aware of the geographical areas (usually poverty-stricken areas) where victims abound and in what countries the predators are usually based,” the DOJ chief said, adding that cases have been filed and convictions have been secured by the IACAT.

Guevarra, however, acknowledged that the pandemic has caused a spike in the number of OSEC. “It just so happened that the numbers have gone up in recent months, clearly because of the economic hardship, as well as the dark opportunities, engendered by this pandemic,” he said.

Guevarra said he will ask the AMLC for a copy of its report, and “refer the matter to the IACAT for appropriate action.”  

OSEC cases increased

In late May, the Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime, citing data by private non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said 279,166 incidents of OSEC were reported from March 1 to May 24 in 2020.

This posts a 264.6% rise from cases logged during the same period last year, where 76,551 reports were recorded. 

The Commission on Human Rights on July 30 last year said that the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the livelihoods of people rendered many Filipinos more vulnerable to exploitation.

RELATED: Pandemic leaves vulnerable Filipinos more prone to exploitation, CHR says

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said then: “This desperate situation, coupled with confinement at home, has led to the increase in cybersex trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children.”

Guevarra this week ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into reports that students offered a “Christmas sale” of their sensual photos and videos to obtain money for gadgets to be used in distance learning classes.

— Kristine Joy Patag with a report from The STAR/Lawrence Agcaoili



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