Gatchalian seeks probe over reports of students selling lewd photos, videos online

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021   •   483

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to open an investigation following reports of students allegedly selling lewd photos and videos online.

Based on reports of The Philippine Online Student Tambayan (POST), a news portal on the student sector, several students are using #AlterPH, #AlterPinay, and #AlterPhilippines on Twitter to sell their photos and videos  so that they could buy gadgets for their siblings and pay for internet bills. 

“Nakakabahalang dahil sa mga suliraning dinudulot ng pandemya, ang ating mga kabataan ay nahaharap sa matinding panganib na maging biktima ng pang-aabuso at karahasan (It is alarming that because of the effects of the pandemic, our students are facing risks of becoming victims of abuse and violence),” he said in a statement.

There has been a spike in the number of online sexual exploitation cases compared to last year. Between March 1 to May 24 2020, there were 279,166 cases of online sexual exploitation recorded in Metro Manila; a 264% increase compared to the 76,561 cases recorded from the same period last year.

Gatchalian also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to boost its child protection program to better identify learners who may be experiencing abuse and exploitation. AAC 

PDEA chief to resign if personnel in ‘misencounter’ indeed sold drugs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Wilkins Villanueva has offered his resignation if the evidence will prove that PDEA and Philippine National Police (PNP) operatives involved in the ‘misencounter’ were selling drugs.

Based on several reports, the operation conducted last February 24 in Commonwealth involving the Quezon City Police District-Special Operations Unit and PDEA was a sell-bust.

Villanueva also challenged anyone holding evidence to prove that the PNP and PDEA were selling drugs during the ‘misencounter’.

Huwag na tayo magsalita ng walang ebidensya kasi hearsay lang iyon. Magsalita ka kung may nakikita kang ebidensya na andiyan, CCTV ang patunay. Maghanap, magpalabas sila ng CCTV na nagbentahan ang PDEA at ang pulis magre-resign ako right now (Let us not talk without evidence because those will be hearsays. Talk if you have evidence, the CCTV is available for proof. Show a CCTV footage showing the police and PDEA were selling and buying drugs then I will resign right now), he said.

PNP chief PGen. Debold Sinas said the involved PDEA agents and police were returned to their respective units. He also refused to further comment on the issue and said to wait for the result of the NBI’s investigation.

Ang mga personnel namin iyong mga personnel namin will be doing administrative duties at mag-report sila sa opisina pending the result of the NBI investigation (Our personnel will be doing administrative duties and they will report in the office while the result of the NBI investigation is pending),” Sinas said

“We are very confident the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is capable, has the ability to find out the truth,” he added.

The NBI now has custody of the evidence earlier gathered by the PNP. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Police arrests blackmailer for posting nude photos of victim

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A blackmailer was arrested by authorities during an entrapment operation in Cebu.

The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Robert Villegas Debulosan, was arrested on February 28 after a 19-year old victim from Talisay City filed a complaint against him.

Based on the complaint, Debulosan posted nude photos of her in various group chats on Facebook after the victim refused to have sex with the suspect.

During the entrapment, authorities seized a mobile phone and three mall sachets of suspected shabu.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that Debulosan maintains 17 poser accounts in Facebook which he uses to entice women by initially courting them online. He will then eventually ask for nude photos of the victim which he will later use in a blackmail scheme.

Debulosan is facing criminal charges for violation of R.A 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009. AAC

Gatchalian volunteers to be inoculated with Sinovac vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said he has volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech in a bid to address vaccine hesitancy.

In a statement, Gatchalian said he is willing to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac if allowed under the government’s prioritization framework for the nationwide immunization campaign.

“Alam ko may prioritization tayo ngayon. Kung hindi naman lalabag dito, I would volunteer to be vaccinated by Sinovac. This is to show to the public our support to the vaccination program,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he sent word to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. over the weekend of his willingness to participate in the national vaccination program.

This is also to disprove the notion that some politicians want to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice and with an efficacy rate higher than CoronaVac, he added.

“What’s more important to me is the seal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it’s approved by the FDA, which went through tedious analysis prior to the grant of authorization for emergency use, I’m okay with it,” he said.

“I’m okay with any brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’m not brand conscious. I put my trust in the FDA,” he added.

The FDA earlier said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is not recommended for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that health workers can still choose to receive the vaccine as it only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

The Philippine government on Monday rolled out its immunization program after COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The Department of Health said that more than 700 frontline workers, and government officials received the vaccine on the first day of immunization.

Prior to Monday’s immunization drive, a survey conducted from January 26 to February 1, 2021 by the OCTA Research Group showed that only 19% of Filipinos are willing to have themselves vaccinated while 46% would not want to be inoculated and 35% are still undecided.

Gatchalian, however, expressed optimism that the figures will change in the coming days.

“Maraming hesitant dahil bago itong vaccine. Kaya importante dito ang confidence building na dapat pangunahan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, well-known personalities, at kahit mga elected officials kagaya ng ginawa ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he said.

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