PH ranks 2nd in online sexual abuse, exploitation of children - CICC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — The Philippines ranked second worldwide when it comes to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), according to the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC).

"Other people all over the world look at us as unethical on the internet…" Assistant Secretary and CICC Deputy Executive Director Mary Rose Magsaysay said during a budget hearing of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Tuesday.

DICT chief Ivan Uy added that poverty is the root cause of the problem and admitted that the agency lacks technical equipment to counter OSAEC.

READ: Cybercrimes in Metro Manila up by 152% in first half of 2023 – PNP

"Iyong mga magulang tsaka kapitbahay, mga kapatid pinapakita nila iyong alam niyo na na mga bata online para kumita," Magsaysay said.

[Translation: Their parents, neighbors, siblings, they show these children online to make money.]

Senators, meanwhile, expressed shock and alarm over the lagging digital literacy of Filipinos while cases of child exploitation climb.

"Nakakalungkot sa sexual exploitation mataas tayo tapos sa attacks tayo rin ang ina-attack, tapos sa literacy tayo ang number 1 sa pinaka illiterate digitally," Sen. Loren Legarda said.

[Translation: It's sad that we are high in sexual exploitation, and we are also the ones being attacked, but in literacy we are number 1 among the most illiterate digitally.]

DICT is proposing a ₱8.729-billion budget for next year but appealed for a ₱5.6-billion increase, citing the need for CICC funding.

In a bid to reduce child exploitation cases online, Sen. Bato Dela Rosa raised the idea of blocking some online platforms. But Uy said the country needs an enabling law to execute it.

The Philippines was previously identified as a hotbed for online scams.

Last Aug. 18, authorities were able to seize ₱7 million in cash, 24,000 pre-registered SIM, over 9,000 cellphones, passports, credit cards, and documents like contracts from 32 vaults in a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators hub in Pasay City.

READ: Nearly ₱7M, 24,000 SIM seized in POGO hub

"Ito isang facility lang ha, may ₱1 billion yung load tapos yung budget ng CICC, ₱320 million lang. [This facility alone has a ₱1 billion load while the CICC only has a ₱320-million budget]. You're really fighting Goliath," Sen. Grace Poe said.

-With reports from CNN Philippines correspondent Eimor Santos.