MANILA – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has vowed to intensify its efforts to combat online child exploitation in the country by tracing child traffickers through their online activities.
In a multi-agency briefing at Malacañang on Tuesday, DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said a majority of child traffickers are members of the child’s household or a close family friend and make use of the Internet to sell their illegal content in other countries.
Uy said the DICT and its attached agency, the Cybercrime Investigation Coordinating Council, “extensively” cooperate with local and international law enforcement agencies to provide resources and go after such criminal activity.
“We’re doing everything. We’re covering all aspects – whether it’s social media and how they’re marketing it on websites and following the money trail,” he said.
Uy said specifically, the Anti-Money Laundering Council is working with financial partners and government agencies here and abroad to follow money transactions related to such activities.
In addition, he said, the DICT is working with local telecommunications companies that serve as online gateways to a large chunk of the population to track down these cybercriminals.
“Marami pong paraan at once ma-zero in namin kung saan ang operations niyo, kasama rin ho kayo sa blacklisting as a child abuser sa buong mundo (There are many ways to zero in on where your operations are, and you’ll be included in international blacklisting as a child abuser),” Uy said.
Once blacklisted, he said, these individuals would not only face criminal charges but also be barred from international travel and would have a difficult time finding jobs.
“Hindi ito local crime na kung ginawa niyo ito ay dito lang kayo sa Pilipinas mamamarka. Markado po kayo sa buong mundo (This is not a local crime where you’ll only be marked here in the Philippines. You’ll be marked in the entire world),” Uy said.
He noted how increased connectivity throughout the country has provided both good and bad opportunities that criminals have exploited.
“We also have to push for better online education once we deploy more connectivity. Not only making them aware, protecting themselves against cybercrime but also educating them on the detrimental effects of child exploitation using this medium,” Uy said.
During the briefing, Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla disclosed that the Philippines has become “number one” in online child exploitation, noting that such activities increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In response, he said, the Marcos administration has declared war against online child exploitation and would work with international agencies to ensure that such criminals are brought to justice.
“What will deter people para umiwas ang tao sa ganitong gawain iyon ay isang bagay lang certainty of punishment na sila ay mahuhuli at sila ay parurusahan (to avoid this kind of activity is the certainty of punishment, to arrest and punish them). We will make sure of that, that’s why we’re here together,” Remulla said. “We are declaring a war on this. We’ll be there for anybody who still will insist on perpetuating this crime.” (PNA)