MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet have ordered sanctions against internet service providers that have failed to stop online child pornography, reports of which nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said on Tuesday.
Transaction reports related to online sexual exploitation rose from 19,000 in 2019 to 47,937 in 2020, when the Philippines went on varying degrees of quarantine restrictions to halt the pandemic. The median age of those involved in these transactions is 11, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Duterte's Cabinet, which met on Monday, directed the National Telecommunications Commission to impose sanctions on internet service providers “for failure to fulfill their duty” under Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, he said.
These duties include immediately notifying lawmakers within a week upon knowing that their services were being used for child pornography, providing authorities with details on users involved in the scheme, and intercepting or immediately blocking access to the materials, Nograles told reporters in an online briefing.
The Cabinet, he said, also called on lawmakers to do the following.
- Prioritize passage of bills that would exempt trafficking in persons from the Anti-Wiretapping Law
- Broaden membership of the inter-agency council on child pornography, and strengthen the body with additional plantilla positions and funding
- Impose obligations on internet service providers and tourism establishments in the campaign towards "destroying child" pornography
"Hindi hahayaan ng gobyerno na madagdagan pa ang biktima ng sexual exploitation sa gitna ng kinakaharap nating pandemya," he said.
(The government will not allow more to fall victim to sexual exploitation in the middle of the pandemic.)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian earlier 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 to earn money to support online schooling.
The Department of Education 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.