DESPITE the limitations and health risks induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the conviction rate for Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (Osec) cases in the Philippines has increased by 177 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar of the DOJ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat), in her brief comments and congratulatory message during the virtual celebration of the second anniversary of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (Picacc) on April 28, 2021, said the 117 percent increase in convictions in Osec cases from the year 2019 to 2020 has been the highest conviction rate for Osec cases in the country so far.
Aglipay-Villar said even during the height of the lockdown, the number of operations increased from 36 in 2019 to 53 in 2020; from 124 victims rescued in 2019 nationwide, they were able to rescue 191 victims in 2020.
Convictions for Osec cases increased from 47 convictions in 2019 to 100 convictions in 2020.
The Picacc, established in 2019, is a collective effort to fight Osec in the country through law enforcement.
Its supporting agencies include the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), National Bureau of Investigation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division, the DOJ Iacat and international law enforcement partners such as the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, the Australian Federal Police, the National Police of the Netherlands and the International Justice Mission.
Aglipay-Villar noted that being tagged as the global epicenter of Osec, children in the country were at greater risk of being Osec victims and this has worsened because of the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary for Peace and Order Bernardo Porece Jr., the keynote speaker, said the Picacc has paved the way for more collaborative case works and system reforms both in local and international agencies.
Steven Robinson, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, assured to continue the Australian government’s commitment to help protect the children in the Philippines from Osec, acknowledging that Australians are among the large portion of global perpetrators preying on Filipino children.
Likewise, Daniel Pruce, British Ambassador to the Philippines, said it has been a privilege to work through the UK’s NCA to assist Filipinos in the investigation of Osec cases and the handling of the victims through the provision of training, equipment and infrastructure.
He said the NCA is willing to continue working with the country to combat serious and organized crimes, be it cybercrime, money laundering and/or kidnap for ransom cases.
Several individuals in the law enforcement sectors have also been recognized during the virtual celebrations because of their services that led to successful operations amid the pandemic. (WBS)