MANILA — The United States government said on Monday that online exploitation of children in the Philippines remained a “priority concern."
This, as stakeholders gathered in a summit to address child labor and other forms of abuse committed against children.
In the summit, US Embassy political counselor Brett Blackshaw said that while the Philippine government and various organizations have taken concrete steps against child exploitation, it still persisted as a problem.
Blackshaw said “millions of children” around the world remained trapped in exploitative and abusive conditions.
“Another priority concern for the US government is, in the Philippines is, as mentioned, to end online exploitation of children,” Blackshaw said.
But Blackshaw said the Philippines has been an “exemplary country in the region” for the past 6 years, based on the State Department’s annual trafficking in persons report.
“Online sexual exploitation of course as we know, scars children for life and... we have seen, I think, a troubling trend, we all have, during the pandemic of that situation getting worse,” Blackshaw said.
"But I think, even in the face of surge of cases, it is, what we have seen here in the Philippines, the Philippine government and Philippine NGOs and partners at grassroots level have doubled your efforts to try to help the children affected," he added.
Meanwhile, International Labor Organization Country Office for the Philippines Senior Program Officer Ma. Concepcion Sardaña said that there were about 160 million child laborers in the world, although the number has been declining since 2020.
“The Philippines could very well have contributed to this decline as the most recent report of the Philippines Statistics Authority reported that child labor continued to drop in 2020,” Sardaña said.
Stakeholders from local governments and national governments as well as non-government organizations participated in the summit, organized by World Vision.
“We really encourage you to continue working together and really stand against child exploitation, together we can bring hope, justice and joy to all children,” World Vision National Director Rommel Fuerte said.