House panel to probe rising cases of online sexual exploitation of children

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020   •   201

The House Committee on the Welfare of Children will begin investigation on the rising cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) during the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID) pandemic.

Panel Chairperson and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez on Monday (August 10) said the investigation aims to identify and address the gaps in the speedy prosecution of OSEC cases.

This also includes ensuring full accountability and compliance of internet service providers, social media, and other online platforms.

“There is an urgent need for the House of Representatives to exercise its oversight mandate to investigate the rising incidence of OSEC in the country, look into the quality of policy implementation, and review existing and related laws to keep up with the complexity of OSEC and the increasing levels of digital technology,” she said.

The lawmaker also reported that as of May 25, the Office of Cybercrime under the Department of Justice received 279,166 cyber tips from March to May 2020. This is higher compared to 76,561 cyber tips over the same period in 2019 which translates to an increase of 264.63%.

Children may experience sexual exploitation from their own parents who would peddle them to online sexual predators. Other forms of abuse also include online sexual grooming and the creation, production, and distribution of child sexual abuse and exploitation materials by pedophiles and predators, Romualdez cited.

“The greater shame is on us! For our failure to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, for allowing poverty to be a convenient excuse for our inaction to counter the continuing spread of OSEC, and for not being able to raise awareness among parents and the need to educate children on the risks of online sexual exploitation,” she stressed. AAC (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

House panel approves resolution for TV networks to air 3-hour educational programs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2020

The House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals has approved House Resolution 856 that seeks to encourage private and public television stations to air three hours of educational programs.

Alliance of Organizations, Networks and Associations (ALONA) Partylist Rep. Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez, committee chairman, said they want to support students who have limited access to the internet and other gadgets.

According to Department of Education (DepEd) Usec. for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, this will greatly help the department’s implementation of distance learning.

“Dahil diyan sa resolusyon na iyan ay mag-ooffer sa atin ang mga TV stations ng kahit 30 minuto kada araw na hindi na kailangang…kumbaga, bayaran ng DepEd, ay malaking tulong iyan (Because of the resolution, TV stations will offer at least 30 minutes every day which DepEd need not pay. It would help a lot),” he said.

DepEd’s regional offices are currently coordinating with local TV stations in airing educational shows. Meanwhile the National Telecommunications Commissions (NTC) recently released Memorandum Order 10-06-2020 which requires TV stations to allot 30 hours per month for the government to provide the needed educational services. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento).

Marcos seeks probe on rising cases of child sexual abuse online

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 10, 2020

Senator Imee Marcos is seeking to investigate the rising cases of child sexual abuse online.

In a statement, the Senator expressed alarm after cases in March to May alone more than tripled to about 260,000 compared to last year. Marcos also said telecommunications firms and internet service providers (ISPs) were falling short of their duty by law to report such cases and install technology that detect and block the transmission of pictorial and live child pornography being sold online.

“What preventive measures have our telcos and ISPs taken to block avenues of exploitation like online gaming, chat groups, phishing email and other unsolicited contact in social media? The government has relied more often on foreign authorities,” she said.

Due to this, she field Senate Resolution 487 to investigate telcos and ISPs for the rising cases of child sexual abuse online. Marcos also feared that due to the pandemic, cases of child sexual abuse may increase further.

“The pandemic has stripped the layers of protection against the sexual abuse of children, including the income security of parents and public interaction under the watchful eyes of teachers, doctors, law enforcers, and responsible members of the community,” she said. AAC

House panel to look into $1.02-B cash brought in by Chinese nationals

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2020

The House committee on ways and means is set to look into the $1.02 billion in cash allegedly brought in by Chinese nationals in an alleged money laundering scheme.

Committee panel chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda called on a closed-door session on Tuesday (March 3) to discuss the issue.

Salceda approved the motion of Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing to conduct an investigation on the $160.58 million in cash allegedly brought into the country by Chinese citizens from December 2019 to February 2020.

However, Salceda said there is $840 million that entered the country through Customs.

“The $160 million that was reported is just a tip of the iceberg. Based on our reports, I have seen that on top of $160 million, there was $840 million that entered last year through Customs through the airports,” he said.

“There is an obvious and apparent use of the power of the Customs covering portable commodities and declaring it without passing through the banking system. Otherwise, this would have had red flags all over the place already. The thing there, it’s $1.02 billion, not $160 million,” Salceda added.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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