SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Privilege Speech on Cyber Pornography
21 January 2014
Senate Session Hall
I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege as a mother, as a legislator, as a Filipino.
Police authorities recognize that cyber pornography is among the “top crimes” in our country today. “Cybersex,” “child pornography,” “cyberporn,” “child abuse”—these words have been hogging recent headlines in our country; and the reports that came with them are too harrowing. In fact, it is disturbing that these abuses against children can happen.
This is a crime that has, in fact, gone on far too long; and we need to do something about it urgently.
Three months ago, I delivered a privilege speech, citing police operations that led to the rescue of children who were subjected to sexual abuse and watched by loathsome men across the globe, in exchange for money.
One of the cases provided by the International Justice Mission involved five sisters who were subjected to cyber pornography by their own parents.
It is sickening to imagine that a mother can actually expose her daughters to such abuse in exchange for a few hundred pesos. Nothing, not even poverty, can justify such acts.
If children can no longer feel secure and protected in their own homes, then something is really, terribly wrong in our society.
We need to put an end to these kinds of abuses.
The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act penalizes these acts. Harboring a child for purposes of prostitution or production of pornographic materials is considered trafficking. Furthermore, the crime is not plain trafficking but qualified trafficking when the offender is the parent, guardian or someone who exercises authority over the child. In fact, any person found guilty of qualified trafficking shall serve life imprisonment.
The Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Law also penalizes sexual acts, including prostitution, committed against a woman or child.
These cases of cyber sex trafficking tell us that with advancements in the Internet, allowing communication to cross national borders in a matter of seconds, everything is now within reach. This reality can be both a boon and bane for our unsuspecting children.
It is in this context that I filed Senate Bill No. 532, the Anti-Computer Pornography Act. This bill seeks to protect minors from indecent and immoral material transmitted through electronic mail and other electronic media. Through this measure, acts such as transmitting or offering to transmit information containing indecent materials to a minor and providing access to transmission of said materials to a minor will be considered a crime.
I call on my colleagues to support the passage of this measure which will complement the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and safeguard the welfare of our citizens, particularly women and children.
We support the Department of Justice (DOJ), as head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the full and effective implementation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
We support a massive information and education campaign against trafficking and cyberporn.
We raise the possibility of the Supreme Court creating special courts to expedite the prosecution of human trafficking cases especially those that involve children.
We need to curb cyber pornography and all forms of human trafficking. We need to strengthen our efforts and track down offenders with a sense of urgency. Our children deserve to have a decent fighting chance to succeed in their lives. It starts with keeping them safe from the dark purveyors of flesh and looters of our children’s innocence.
Thank you, Mr. President.