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PNP Bolsters Efforts Against Online Sexual Abuse of Children

In response to alarming statistics revealing the Philippines as the second-ranked country globally in the prevalence of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), the Philippine National Police (PNP) has ramped up its efforts to combat this heinous crime. BGen. Portia Manalad, Director of the PNP Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC), discussed the intensified measures in a video interview with The Manila Times.

Manalad attributed the surge in OSAEC cases during the COVID-19 pandemic to increased internet usage among children confined to their homes due to lockdowns. She highlighted the critical role of Republic Act 11930, or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials Act, which was enacted in 2022 to address these issues.

While noting a slight decrease in cases last year, Manalad stressed that the decline was insignificant. The PNP-WCPC primarily operates in Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), and the National Capital Region (Metro Manila).

Manalad emphasized the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC), which comprises various local and foreign law enforcement agencies. Partnerships include the PNP-WCPC, the National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Trafficking Division, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, the Australian Federal Police, the Dutch National Police, and the International Justice Mission (IJM).

Acknowledging successful convictions in online trafficking cases, Manalad highlighted the government’s “whole-of-government” approach, emphasizing strong interagency partnerships and cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies. She underscored the importance of parental guidance in educating children about online safety and responsible information sharing.

According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), nearly half a million Filipino children were trafficked to produce sexual exploitation material in 2022, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive action to protect vulnerable children from online predators.

The PNP’s intensified efforts signify a crucial step towards combating online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Still, sustained vigilance and collaboration across sectors are essential to effectively address this grave societal concern.