Senator Win Gatchalian (Contributed photo)

MANILA – Amid the global celebration of World Children’s Day, Senator Win Gatchalian on Sunday urged the government to sustain the momentum of its crackdown on online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).

“Bahagi ng pagtataguyod natin sa kaligtasan at kapakanan ng mga kabataan ang pagtiyak sa kaligtasan ng internet, lalo na’t ginagamit ito para sa iba’t ibang uri ng karahasan at pang-aabuso (Part of our promotion of the safety and well-being of young people is ensuring the safety of the internet, especially when it is used for various types of violence and abuse),” Gatchalian said in a news release on Sunday.

Considering the recent passage of two relevant laws, Gatchalian said the government is now better equipped to combat OSAEC as well as other forms of child trafficking and abuse.

He was referring to the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2022 (Republic Act No. 11862) and the Anti-Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act (Republic Act No. 11930).

According to the study entitled “Disrupting Harm in the Philippines: Evidence on online child sexual exploitation and abuse,” 20 percent of internet-using children aged 12-17 were victims of grave instances of online sexual exploitation and abuse during the past year.

The study surveyed 950 children and when these findings are scaled to the population, up to 2 million children were subjected to these harms last year.

According to the study, the experiences of victims include being blackmailed to engage in sexual activities or being coerced to engage in sexual activities through promises of money and gifts.

Gatchalian also recalled how the Covid-19 pandemic increased children’s exposure to OSAEC.

In 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that it has received more than 2.8 million reports on online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), more than twice the nearly 1.3 million reports for 2020.

The DOJ also reported that for last year, it launched official investigations on 268 OSEC cases, almost four times the 73 cases handled in 2020. (PNA)