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QC gov’t to train SK officials on programs vs online child abuse

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said on Tuesday, Nov. 14, that she aims to train the newly elected Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials in the city’s barangays so that they can implement programs to fight online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) and address other issues involving the youth.

The lady mayor announced this during the Anti-OSAEC Conference at the Novotel Manila, Araneta City, in Quezon City on Tuesday.

The event was co-hosted by the city government, Mission Alliance Philippines (MAP), the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA), the Philippine Children’s Ministries Network (PCMN), Plan International Pilipinas, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila, in response to the alarming rise in OSAEC cases in the country.

“Combating child abuse and exploitation has been a challenge for the government, especially with the emergence of technology. We, the Quezon City Government, are grateful for this partnership led by Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Christian Lyster. Together, we can minimize the cases of, if not end, Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and protect our youth,” Belmonte said.

During the event, Belmonte declared Quezon City as the hub or center of the anti-OSAEC campaign in the country.

The mayor said they will be able to consolidate the capacities of different agencies including the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), Social Services Development Department, Public Employment Services Office, the baranggays and their SK, in addressing OSAEC in the city.

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Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmontre, along with Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Christian Lyster, puts her signature on the a commitment board pledging her support to the campaign against online sexual abuse and exploitation (OSAEC) during the Anti-OSAEC conference held at Novotel Manila, Quezon City on Tuesday, Nov. 14. (Aaron Homer Dioquino/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Belmonte added that about 10 percent of a village’s budget is dedicated to the programs and projects of SK officials who represent the youth in the city.

“So the challenge now, for me especially as the mayor, is to train the Sangguniang Kabataan elected officials – the SK chairman along with the SK kagawads – that they should use the funds allocated for the SK towards more productive programs including combating OSAEC and not just the usual paliga ng mga basketball, volleyball (basketball and volley leagues) which is what they do,” she said in a press briefing conducted during the event.

“It’s time to level up the performance of the SK. And I think the SK, as the institution in the community that is the voice of the youth, the representatives of the youth, they are also the ones who act in behalf of the youth, have so much power to combat OSAEC,” Belmonte added.

She also said that they will tap different institutions and non-government organizations, and allocate various resources in the fight against OSAEC.

“Again, I would like to stress, ‘yung Sangguniang Kabataan, tutukan natin sila, because napakalas ng kanilang pwersa kung mabigyan sila ng sapat na edukasyon, impormasyon, at kalakasan para maging katuwang ng pamahalaan sa pagtuligsa nitong problemang ito (Again, I would like to stress, the Sangguniang Kabataan, let’s focus on them, because their forces are very strong if they are given enough education, information, and strength to be a partner of the government in fighting this problem),” the mayor said.

Citing the MAP, the city government said the country has emerged as a global hotspot for online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

It said that a 2020 national study on “Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children” in the country showed that a staggering 80 percent of Filipino children are vulnerable to online sexual abuse.

It added that that 20 percent or about two million of Internet-using Filipino children with ages 12-17 have fallen victim to OSAEC based on the 2022 Disrupting Harm Study conducted by United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) International, and Interpol.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said that the most common reports of missing and exploited children incidents in the country were the manufacture, distribution, and possession of child pornography; online enticement of children for sexual acts; child sex trafficking; and child sex tourism.

It added that among the challenges the country faces in addressing the incidents were the easy access of children to computers and social media; unavailability of electronic evidence proving the exisitence of online sexual exploitation of children; uncooperative victims who choose not to report or press charges against their facilitators of OSAEC; and advancement in technology that makes it harder to law enforcers to detect OSAEC incidents.

With this, the international organizations, the Norwegian Embassy and the local government held a discussion contributing to a collective and comprehensive strategy to address the multifaceted challenges posed by OSAEC during the conference.

The city mayor also shared the initiatives conducted by the local government to the OSAEC incident reports in the city and the interventions provided to its victims and their families.

There are also commitment speeches and calls to action to take action against the issue delivered by representatives of youth groups and other city and municipal leaders.

“The Philippines is a hotspot for online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Norway, through the Nordic Police Liaison Office, works closely with Philippine law enforcement agencies to combat OSAEC. Investigation and prosecution are not enough. We must create awareness on this challenging problem to prevent victims from being abused. I hope that this conference will contribute to discussions on keeping children safe,” Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Christian Lyster said.

The MAP, CPTCSA, PCMN, and Plan International Pilipinas were international organizations that aim to protect women and children against any form of abuse.

Also present during the event were MAP General Secretary Heidi Hegurtun, MAP Country Director Karin Riska, PCMN Executive Director Fe Foronda, Plan International Philippines representatives, Philippine National Police and QCPD officials, Antipolo City government officials, and youth groups.

Belmonte, the Norwegian ambassador and other guests also signed on a commitment board pledging their support to uplift the rights of children and combat OSAEC.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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