MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will summon cybercrime units and experts to look into reports that some students have been selling obscene photos and videos of themselves online to support their studies, an ally said on Wednesday.
Duterte is "deeply concerned with the welfare of these children," said his former longtime aide, Sen. Christopher Go.
“Plano po ipatawag ng Pangulo ang mga cybercrime units and experts from concerned agencies para mapag-usapan kung paano maitigil ito at maproteksyunan ang ating kabataan,” he told reporters in a chance interview.
(The President plans to summon cybercrime units and experts from concerned agencies to discuss how to stop this and protect our youth.)
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 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 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.
The Philippine government saw a 260 percent increase in reports of online child abuse materials from March to May -- when the country was in a strict lockdown, UNICEF earlier said.
Out-of-school kids and adult predators spending more time at home and on the internet during the coronavirus pandemic is the "perfect storm" driving a spike in online child sex abuse around the world, activists and police say.
"COVID-19 lockdowns created the perfect storm for increases in online sexual exploitation of children," explained John Tanagho of the International Justice Mission in Manila.
-- With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse