Briones: Not the answer

I CAME across something really disturbing. It was the article written by Sun.Star Cebu’s Oscar C. Pineda on the Cebu Provincial Council on the Welfare of Children (PCWC), chaired by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, urging money transfer firms to fight against online child pornography.

Mind you, that, in itself, I had no problem with.

So the council organized a meeting with industry players and invited two guest speakers from the International Justice Mission to discuss “Human Trafficking and Online Child Exploitation: Role of Money Transmitting Business” and “Online Child Sexual Exploitation.” Hey, they have my unwavering support.

I don’t condone any form of child pornography, be it online, right on the sidewalk or in the confines of a Cordova home. And not because the practice is too taboo a subject. That’s just based on current sexual mores.

I’m well aware that attitude on such matters tend to be bipolar. It just so happens that we’re living in a period characterized by intense prejudice against the subject. But this can always change, as history has proven. Public ennui is right around the corner, lurking, waiting for its chance to emerge. Just look at the attitude toward gay marriage.

But hey, with local child pornography a simple tap on the “enter” key, pedophiles don’t have to wish they were living in Classical Greece or in 1955, the year Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” took the literary world by storm.

That we have become their mecca is precisely why I believe the whole community should get involved in stopping this social malaise.

But here’s my problem. Magpale is asking industry players to report transactions that are questionable. Umm, excuse me, did she just ask money transfer firms to snitch on their clients?

According to the vice governor, legitimate remittances from overseas Filipino workers are easily spotted, as these are usually around P15,000 a month, or more.

The council is not interested in these. What it’s looking for are the dubious ones, or those that come in smaller amounts on a daily or on a more frequent basis.

“If they (firms) get a smaller amount daily or more than two times a week to a person or two persons, let us know,” Magpale told those who attended the meeting.

So I see. If a money transfer firm receives a small amount for the same client on a regular basis, that client must be engaged in online child pornography.

And what will be the council’s next course of action? Have that person investigated? Round that person up?

First of all, I don’t think money transfer firms are even allowed to reveal their client’s name let alone disclose the transaction amount.

As for Magpale’s admission that the aim of the meeting was not to compel the firms to withhold remittance payment, I didn’t know she could.

I’m sure the vice governor and the PCWC mean well, but resorting to such a drastic measure is not the answer. The PCWC is no Gestapo.


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