Legarda Calls for Better Law Enforcement to Combat Child Cyber Pornography

October 21, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her call for better enforcement of the country’s anti-trafficking and child protection laws to prevent Filipino minors from being subjected to various forms of abuses.


Legarda, author of Republic Act 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, made the statement after she received reports on child cyber pornography from the International Justice Mission (IJM).


The IJM reported that in the last few months, they conducted rescue missions, in coordination with police authorities and government social workers, to save minors from online pornography.


Among the victims they saved are three siblings in Cebu who were sexually exploited by their own parents in front of a webcam for foreign pedophiles to watch real time in exchange for money.


Other recent police operations in coordination with IJM against online pornography include saving a 13-year-old girl and her cousin from her parents in Cebu and rescuing six girls in a cybersex den in Pampanga.


“Amid the political issues our country is facing and amid the work we need to do to help communities affected by recent disasters, we must not lose sight of our responsibility to protect our children from forced labor, slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of human trafficking,” said Legarda.


“We ensured the passage of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to strengthen our legal defenses against individuals and syndicates involved in the illegal human trade. The strict implementation of this law as well as other related pieces of legislation is the greater challenge,” she added.


The Senator said that IJM’s Project Lantern demonstrated how through law enforcement, the country can effectively reduce the occurrence of sex trafficking.


The IJM conducted Project Lantern from 2007 to 2010 in Metro Cebu. They partnered with the Philippine National Police, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and aftercare providers in their mission to combat sex trafficking.


With IJM’s intervention, police authorities in Metro Cebu rescued 259 sex trafficking victims from January 1, 2007 to September 30, 2010. In the three years prior to Project Lantern, the police rescued only 27 victims. The project also resulted in a 79% decrease in the availability of children for sex in Metro Cebu from 2007 to 2010.


In relation to this, Legarda has filed Senate Bill No. 532, the Anti-Computer Pornography Act, to protect minors from indecent and immoral material transmitted through electronic mail and other electronic media.


“We realize that with advancements in the Internet and other technological media allowing communication to cross geographic and national borders in a matter of seconds, everything has now become reachable with the click of a button. Most of these technological advancements have been utilized by unscrupulous individuals for illegal activities such as the cases that were uncovered by the IJM,” she stressed.


“We must keep in mind that human trafficking, and the related problems of the illegal sex trade, forced labor, and other forms of slavery, is a complex web. Battling it requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society,” Legarda concluded.