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INTERNET UPGRADE.  Telecommunication technicians install internet cables at the foot bridge along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City on Monday (Jan. 11, 2021). Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the country has posted an all-time high average download speed improvement of 297.47 percent and 202.41 percent for fixed broadband and mobile broadband, respectively, according to Ookla’s report. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Jan 12 (Mabuhay)– Malacañang has directed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to immediately impose sanctions on internet service providers (ISPs) that allow their platforms to be used for online child exploitation.

In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the rise of cases of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children during the pandemic has caught the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Nograles noted that suspicious transaction reports related to online sexual exploitation of children during the pandemic more than doubled from 19,000 in 2019 to 47,937 in 2020.

“Online sexual exploitation has always been a major concern of the government… It has been discovered, however, that the pandemic has contributed to, or even been used and taken advantage of, as we see the disturbing rise of online sexual exploitation cases in the country. The victims of which have a median age of only 11 years old,” he said.

Nograles said the government adopted the recommendations of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address the online sexual exploitation of minors in the country.

One of the DOJ’s recommendations is directing the NTC to penalize ISPs for failing to fulfill their duties under Republic Act 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.

Under the law, internet service providers are tasked to immediately notify the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation that their servers or facilities are being used for child pornography; preserve evidence for purpose of investigation and prosecution; furnish particulars of users involved in child pornography, and install available technology to intercept or block access to child pornography.

Nograles said the issuance of an executive order was also recommended to pave the way for the strengthened cooperation between the DOJ’s Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography, and other relevant agencies; the formulation of a case management protocol, and the streamlining of online sexual exploitation information dissemination efforts to be headed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Nograles called on Congress to prioritize the passage of bills seeking to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Nograles said the proposed amendments to the law include exempting trafficking in persons from the Anti-Wiretapping Law, broadening the membership of the IACAT, and imposing obligations on ISPs and tourism establishments to help the government combat child pornography in the country.

“Malinaw po na hindi hahayaan ng gobyerno na madagdagan pa ang biktima ng sexual exploitation sa gitna ng kinakaharap nating pandemya, (It is clear that the government will not allow more people to be victims of sexual exploitation amid the pandemic we are facing) ” Nograles said.

Last week, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has called on authorities to look into the reported online sale of lewd photos and videos of some Filipino students or raise funds for distance learning-related expenses as he urged law enforcement agencies to strengthen the government’s anti-cybercrime campaign.

Go also called on the Council for the Welfare of Children to lay down measures to prevent child exploitation and also support them in dealing with the adverse socio-economic impacts of the ongoing health crisis. (MNS)