Authorities pressed to crack down on online child pornography
MANILA, Philippines — The chair of the Senate basic education panel on Sunday pressed authorities to crack down on online child pornography as he cited reports on the proliferation of minors selling sexually explicit images or videos of themselves on social media.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to boost its child protection program as multitudes of schoolchildren, who had been forced to stay home and study through distance learning due to the pandemic, were becoming more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by sexual predators.
In a statement, the senator cited a report by a news portal on the student sector about the rising trend of minors sending pornographic pictures “to raise funds for distance learning-related expenses.”
Gatchalian said based on the report by the Philippine Online Student Tambayan, many students use certain hashtags on Twitter—including #AlterPH, #AlterPinay and #AlterPhilippines—to make such transactions more accessible to prospective buyers in the so-called alter community.
Alter is short for alternative, referring to anonymous Twitter profiles used by people to post, share or trade sexual images.
Gatchalian urged the cybercrime offices of the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police to intensify their investigation of such activities.
“These students use what they earn to buy gadgets for their siblings and pay for internet bills. A Christmas bundle, which contains an array of photos and videos that sometimes reveal the face of sellers, is sold for as low as P150,” he said.
At the height of the government lockdown due to COVID-19 from March 1 to May 24 last year, at least 279,166 cases of online sexual exploitation of children were recorded in Metro Manila, representing a 264-percent increase from the 76,561 cases recorded in the same period in 2019.
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