Legarda bats for stricter implementation of child protection laws, strengthened info campaign to combat child abuse

August 7, 2021

Three-term Senator and now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda called for stricter implementation of child protection and anti-human trafficking laws to put a stop to child exploitation, abuse, and to the illegal human trade.

“Easy access to the internet and technological advancements have now been utilized by unscrupulous individuals for illegal activities preying on the vulnerability and innocence of our children,” Legarda said.

Legarda, co-author of RA 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, and co-author and principal sponsor of RA 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, said that there should be stringent implementation of the laws and massive information dissemination and education campaigns against all forms of child abuse, including sexual exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution, and cyber pornography, among others.

“We also have RA 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, which was signed into law in 1992. Now more than ever, it is high time for Congress to review the provisions of the almost three-decade-old law and propose needed amendments to make it more powerful and suitable given the current situation. The absence of stricter penalties for sexual predators, especially those from other nations, keep our children vulnerable and prone to the threat of abuse. By ensuring that our existing laws are implemented effectively, and the needs and rights of children are adequately protected, we are also giving our children a chance to wake up from the nightmare of abuse and allow them to live a brighter future,” Legarda said.

The former Senator also expressed her concern about the Department of Justice – Cybercrime Office report that there is a 260 percent increase in cyber-tips related to online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) and other sexual misconduct cases involving minors. The most recent incident reported in the news was about a former US diplomat in the Philippines who reportedly committed illicit sexual conduct with a Filipina minor he met online. Legarda said that due to restrictions of movement and the lack of income source for most families, children became more at risk from online sexual abuse, sometimes even perpetrated by their own parents or family members.

“We have enough laws and we even pioneered the law on anti-human trafficking in Southeast Asia. We also have national anti-trafficking units in place that are mandated to specifically combat trafficking and OSEAC, namely, the PNP Women and Children Protection Center and the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division. We also have the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, or IACAT, that coordinates all the efforts to enforce the country’s trafficking laws. We have laid down the laws; what we need to bolster is the implementation of these laws on the ground,” Legarda said.

As a champion of women and children’s rights, Legarda stated that she will give her full support for the Department of Justice (DOJ), as head of the IACAT, and the NBI for the full and effective implementation of child protection and anti-human trafficking laws, as well as in carrying out a massive information and education campaign against all forms of child abuse, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.

“Preventing the crime and protecting our children from abuse and trafficking can actually start at home by educating our children on how they can protect themselves, including teaching them on the responsible use of the Internet. As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to keep them safe and give them a life free from abuse and violence,” Legarda concluded.***