SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Privilege Speech on Cyber Pornography
10 March 2014 – Senate Session Hall
On March 8, women took the global centerstage once again with the celebration of International Women’s Day.
While the Philippines has been gaining success in empowering women, challenges remain and new ones have arisen, including cyber pornography—a crime that crosses geographical boundaries in a matter of seconds; a crime that curtails a girl’s freedom to choose a dignified life even before she understands what it means to be empowered.
In Navotas, four girls aged 12 to 19 were recently rescued from a cybersex trafficker who was selling them to foreign pedophiles. Instead of playing with dolls, the girls were surrounded by sex toys, locked in a sullied shanty doing activities that are inhumane regardless if they were children or adults.
The suspect arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was the uncle of two of the victims.
On February 17, the NBI raided a school in Muntinlupa as well as two call centers in Quezon City, all of which secretly nestled cybersex rooms.
According to NBI Cybercrime Division Head, Mr. Ronald Aguto, the school owner of Muntinlupa-based Mountain Top Christian Academy, identified as Purisima Martinez, harbored cyber crime operations in a disguised computer laboratory within the school campus. As hundreds of children supposedly learn good values from this Christian school, no less than the institution’s president went off course.
Destitution, affordable high-speed internet, and a wealthy overseas customer base have spurred the growth of cybersex dens run by organized crime groups as well as mom-and-dad shops to exploit children for financial gain.
These young minds will suffer and be left with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars. When a recording of that sexual abuse is made or released on the world wide web, it haunts a child for the rest of his or her life.
We hear reports about the raids relating to cybersex crimes from time to time, however an incident-driven response to this barbaric transgression is only effective if it is matched with immediate and long-term tactical investigation that focuses on crime markets and criminal scheme architects.
The biggest challenge in cybercrime stems from innovations created by these offenders, difficulties in accessing electronic evidence, logistic limitations and lack of funding.
Therefore, our law enforcement must use both new and traditional policing techniques. With emerging technologies, we need to adapt to the new methods and devices used by criminals, including the use of Smartphones, a transition from desktop computers. Our authorities need a sustainable, comprehensive technical support and assistance in the investigation and battle of cyber crimes.
It is in this light that I wish to express my commendation to the NBI, led by Director Virgilio Mendez, for doing everything in its power to go after these synicates, despite various obstacles and growing challenges.
To strengthen our battle against cyber pornography, we need to raise this issue and voice our concerns louder, raise awareness, forge public-private partnerships and generate better cybercrime strategies with a broader cyber security perspective.
We need to work together to put an end to all forms of the illegal human trade. We need to beef up our efforts now and save the lives of innocent children, many of whom are girls, who are hoping that soon they will be rescued from slavery and be able to tread on a new path for a much brighter future as empowered men and women.
Thank you, Mr. President.