DOJ to take leads from AMLC report on child porn money trail

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday said it would ask for a copy of the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s (AMLC) report that remittances from online child pornography in the country reached PHP113 million to get new leads on its investigation on areas where these were purportedly sent.

In a message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra noted that the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), co-chaired by the DOJ and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), has been continuously trailing perpetrators during the last few years.

Many cases have been filed in court and convictions secured.

“The IACAT is very much aware of the geographical areas usually poverty-stricken areas where victims abound and in what countries the predators are usually based. It just so happened that the numbers have gone up in recent months, clearly because of the economic hardship, as well as the dark opportunities, engendered by this pandemic. I will request the AMLC for a copy of the report and refer the matter to the IACAT for appropriate action,” Guevarra said.

Meanwhile, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has called on authorities to look into the reported online sale of lewd photos and videos of some Filipino students as he urged law enforcement agencies to strengthen the government’s anti-cybercrime campaign.

“I am calling on concerned agencies to provide necessary interventions to put a stop to this. Alarming ito lalo na’t ang kalaswaan na ito ay dulot rin ng kahirapan (This is alarming especially that these lewd acts are a result of poverty),” Go said, adding that “poverty is not a reason for one to sell one’s soul.”

His pronouncements came after reports indicating that some students have been resorting to selling their obscene photos and videos online to support their needs amid the ongoing pandemic.

Pwedeng makasuhan kung sino ‘yung kakuntsaba at pumapayag sa mga ganitong pagbebenta ng malalaswang mga larawan (Those who are in cahoots with the perpetrators and are allowing the sale of these lewd photos can be charged),” Go said during an ambush interview right after he personally led the distribution of assistance to market vendors in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on Tuesday.

Go also said President Rodrigo Duterte has been informed of this issue and is deeply concerned with the welfare of these children.

He added that the President plans to call on cybercrime units of various concerned agencies for a meeting to address this situation and strengthen safeguards to protect the youth.

Go also called on the Council for the Welfare of Children to lay down measures to prevent child exploitation and also support them in dealing with the adverse socio-economic impacts of the ongoing health crisis.

Tinatawag ko ang pansin ng CWC para alagaan ang kapakanan ng mga bata. Gabayan natin sila dahil hindi nila kailangan magbenta ng kaluluwa para lang sa pera. Nandito po ang gobyerno para tumulong sa inyo (I am calling on the CWC to look after the welfare of children. We should guide them so they won’t have to sell their souls just for money,” Go said.

CWC Executive Director Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy concurred with Go’s statement but said it is difficult to police the Internet for such acts.

She, however, agreed that there is a need to encourage families to come forward and work with the government through CWC should they need assistance on such matters.

Cajayon-Uy said the CWC will validate first about those involved in the online selling of photos and videos. Once this is confirmed, the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography may be tapped to intervene on the issue.

Go also told students in distress to seek his help if they need support for their education rather than resorting to selling lewd photos and videos online. He guaranteed that the government and his office are willing to extend assistance to students who are struggling to support their needs.

Alam mo, hindi niyo po kailangan na pumasok sa ganun. Nandito po ang gobyerno, lapitan niyo lang po ang aming opisina dahil handa kaming tumulong sa inyong pag-aaral, hindi na tayo kailangan pang pumasok sa ganun (You don’t have to engage in these acts. The government is here. Just approach our office and we would be ready to provide assistance to your studies. You don’t have to do these things),” Go said.

Citing a recent study conducted by the Washington-based International Justice Mission which reported that the Philippines is the largest known source of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children cases, Go filed Senate Bill 1650 in July 2020 to amend Republic Act No. 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act” which will enhance the country’s protective measures against child sexual abuse.

The DOJ has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation, to investigate the reported selling of obscene photos and videos.

Guevarra gave NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor 10 days to submit reports on the progress of the investigation.

In a statement, the Department of Education, meanwhile, expressed alarm over the rising incidents of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also gave its full cooperation to government agencies to put a stop to pornography among students. (PNA)

Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph

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