Privilege Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
2014 International Day Against Human Trafficking
15 December 2014 – Senate Session Hall
Last December 12, the International Day Against Human Trafficking was commemorated. Today, I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege to highlight once again one of the new faces of the illegal human trade—cyber pornography.
Does anyone in this chamber know what the number “8” means in internet lingo? We may be familiar with “143” which means “I love you” and “LOL” which means “laughing out loud.” Many other acronyms have been created when text and online messaging became a new medium of communication. The purpose is to shorten the number of characters and type messages faster.
Unfortunately, the Internet has also become a new avenue for human trafficking and acronyms have become tools for pornography and online sexual abuse.
The message “let’s try 8” would seem harmless to an unknowing parent, until that parent realizes that in internet lingo, the number “8” means “oral sex”.
Technological advancements, such as the Internet, are supposed to make life easier and get things done faster. But unscrupulous individuals have been taking advantage of these innovations.
With the Internet allowing communication to cross national borders in a matter of seconds, everything is now within reach, and even human trafficking can now be done online through cyber sex trafficking.
In my previous privilege speeches, I have shared stories of children saved from cybersex dens. Children as young as two years old were subjected to online sexual abuse and in some instances, the children’s own parents serve as pimps.
If a parent can do such a crime to his or her own child, what would stop a stranger from kidnapping or even just “borrowing” a young girl and exposing her to online clients for sexual pleasure in exchange for several pesos or dollars?
Cybersex is just one of the many tentacles of human trafficking. Even as we strengthen efforts to combat this complex crime, many new challenges emerge.
We passed the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2013 to address these new challenges. Under the amended law, even acts that constitute attempted trafficking in persons are punishable. Accomplices and accessories to the crime will also be meted their due penalties.
Harboring a child for purposes of prostitution or production of pornographic materials is considered trafficking under the law. Moreover, the crime is considered qualified trafficking when the offender is the parent, guardian or someone who exercises authority over the child.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) was also established to take the battle against trafficking to a higher plane of strategic action and public awareness. Our law enforcers are strengthening partnerships with independent groups and intensifying coordination with international police groups to effectively pursue human traffickers.
The Philippines has shown significant improvements in combatting human trafficking.
The 2014 Global Slavery Index revealed that the Philippines is no. 1 in Asia, no. 3 in Asia-Pacific, and no. 29 worldwide out of 166 countries in terms of government response against human trafficking.
These numbers should not, however, give us a sense of complacency. While this is laudable, we cannot celebrate just yet because we know that there are still many Filipino women, children and even men here in the country and in other parts of the world who are hoping and praying that soon they will be rescued from slavery and be able to tread on a new path for a much brighter future.
Let us continue to give our full support to the agencies of government forming the IACAT, led by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the full and effective implementation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Let us help carry out a massive information and education campaign against all forms of human trafficking, including cyber pornography.
The illegal human trade is a complex web. Battling it requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society. But preventing the crime and protecting our children from trafficking can actually start at home by educating our children on how they can protect themselves, including on the responsible use of the Internet.
Thank you, Mr. President.