MANILA - The Department of Social Welfare and Development admits the cyber nature of crimes like online child pornography makes it difficult to gather evidence against the suspects.
The Supreme Court has a temporary restraining order against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said the TRO poses a challenge to police efforts and the prosecution of sexual predators in the country.
"There's a TRO on the Cyber Crime Law and because of that all cases are using child abuse and anti child porn is not as strong. Getting evidence is not as firm," she said in an interview on ANC.
Aside from the court order, the participation of family members in facilitating the crime is also a problem.
The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group said most cases they handled had the approval of the children's parents who believe pornography is harmless because there is no physical contact between the children and the pedophiles.
Family members of children were among 29 people arrested in a recent crackdown on a pedophile ring in the Philippines.
Police inspector Maria Ivy Castillo, supervisor of the women and children protection section of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, also warned children against uploading their own photographs online to prevent undue exposure to sexual predators.
She said that in some cases, children are asked to perform sexual acts after being threatened by pedophiles that their nude photos will be distributed online if they do not comply.
"Minsan yun mga bata natin, sila mismo nag-a-upload ng nude photos nila out of curiosity. Ina-upload nila sa kanilang social media accounts, sa Facebook. Kapag na-profile yun ng mga suspects, ng mga pedophiles, china-chat sila. Kino-contact sila. Yun ang nagiging umpisa at nakukuha nila yun," she said.
"Ilalabas nila online yun kung hindi gagawin ang pinagagawa like mag ma-masturbate on livestream. Yung bata natatakot so ginagawa niya. The same time wala naman nangyayari sa kanya kasi hindi naman physically na a-abuse," she added.
Poverty has been cited as a reason why children allow themselves to be abused.
Soliman said the government's conditional cash transfer program is a means to prevent child trafficking.
She said the CCT program's family development sessions help educate the poor of the need for family care and how to make women and children less prone to abuse.
"If people and communities are less poor they are more resilient when a disaster strikes, poverty reduction and disaster risk reduction is a synergizing effort to protect our children our families esp poor families," she said.
She said the barangay council and the community have important roles to play in child protection. She said anyone who fails to report incidents of abuse is considered an accessory to the crime.