MANILA – The Department of Education said Tuesday it was looking into reports that some students have been selling obscene photos and videos of themselves online to support their studies.
In a statement, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the department was consolidating information from its field offices following reports “that students resorted in selling their private videos and photos to have sufficient funding for online learning.”
In an interview, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said the issue has been referred to the DepEd’s child protection unit, which is getting “more information on this matter.”
“We are treating this as a serious but very sensitive matter,” he told ABS-CBN News.
Over the weekend, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian raised concerns over a report by news portal Philippine Online Student Tambayan (POST), which revealed that students held an online “Christmas sale” of their “sensual” photos and videos.
The DepEd earlier said it was “deeply alarmed” over the POST report, adding that it would cooperate with other government agencies to prevent and address pornography among students.
The department urged schools to ramp up the efforts of child protection committees, which are tasked to identify and report to appropriate offices cases involving child abuse and exploitation.
The agency has repeatedly said students are not required to have gadgets or internet connection to participate in distance learning since schools could also use printed modules, television, and radio to deliver lessons.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate reports of students’ online sale of sexy photos and videos of themselves.
In May last year, the Department of Justice said reports of online sexual exploitation of children in the country spiked by over 260 percent during the COVID-19 lockdown.