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Legarda Renews Call to End Gender-based Violence

October 27, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Lone District Representative Loren Legarda today renewed her call to end gender-based violence (GBV), an advocacy that she has long espoused.

As principal author of the Anti-Violence against Women and Children Act of 2004 (RA 9262), Legarda, since her first term as Senator, has been continuously working to defend and protect the rights of women and children. The law protects women and children against any form of violence and abuses, including physical, psychological, sexual and even economic harm.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an alarming rise in gender-based violence as the imposition of community lockdowns and quarantine measures have made women and children more vulnerable to abuses even in the confines of their own homes,” Legarda said.

“As digital technology has become more advanced and sophisticated, scrupulous individuals have unfortunately taken advantage of such innovations to commit criminal and illegal activities,” added Legarda, who is also the principal sponsor of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2013 (RA 10364), which widened the scope of prohibited acts that contribute in trafficking, and empowered government agencies by providing technical, structural and financial support.

In May this year, the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT), the International Justice Mission (IJM), and the USAID published a study on online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the Philippines which yielded that the country has been referenced as the global hotspot for this crime, having the largest known source of OSEC cases.

“On one hand, we give much importance to family ties as this is an inherent Filipino trait. Unfortunately, the same could also facilitate the conduct of criminal acts. In fact, the IJM has also reported OSEC as a family-based crime as most perpetrators have been identified to be immediate relatives of the victims. These heinous acts take place in the privacy of the victims’ homes ,” Legarda pointed out. The report cited that 41 percent of abuse cases were facilitated by biological parents, and 42 percent by other relatives, or at least 83 percent by people related to the child victims.

Legarda therefore urged the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and Barangay VAWC desks to work harder on the strict implementation of existing laws in combatting these abuses and to ensure that all channels where victims can reach out to are always open.

In this digital age, Legarda also emphasized the need for massive education and information drives not only on how to access government programs for assistance to victims, but, more importantly also, on how to prevent these violence and abuses from occurring in the first place.

Under the 2018 GAA, Legarda, as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, sponsored the allocation of P36.134 million-capital outlay for the construction of the WCPC at the PNP Headquarters, and P11.6 million-MOOE for its operations and activities.

“Abuses, in any form, should never be tolerated. It is about time that we stand tall and talk about it. Let all voices be heard. Let us all keep our homes safe, safe from the virus, safe from the hurt, safe from fear, and safe from gender-based violence.” Legarda stated.***