Cyberbullying cases soar in 2016
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Cases of cyberbullying have increased by 70.74 percent last year, the Philippine National Police-Anti Cybercrime Group (ACG) said.

A total of 782 cases were reported to the ACG last year, significantly higher than the 458 incidents recorded in 2015. A majority of the cases involved online libel with 498, an increase of 60.12 percent compared to the previous year’s 311 cases.

Next is online threat which increased by 96.22 percent, 106 cases in 2015 to 208 last year. Cases of unjust vexation spiked by 39.39 percent, from 33 in 2015 to 46 last year.

Meanwhile, 30 cases of abuse of minors under Republic Act 7610 were recorded last year, a 275 percent increase compared to just eight cases in 2015.

For the first quarter of 2017, the ACG has recorded 142 cases of online libel, 41 online threats, 10 incidents of unjust vexation and four cases of child abuse.

ACG anti-cybercrime operations division chief Senior Supt. Michael Angelo Zuniga said among the symptoms that a minor is a victim of cyberbullying are low self-esteem, withdrawal from family and spending a lot of time alone.

Zuniga said they are conducting an information drive against cyberbullying at schools.

“Our regional offices are conducting cyberbullying presentations just to protect students from being bullied and to educate them on what to do the moment they are victimized,” he said.

Zuniga advised would-be victims not to respond to these kinds of bullying as the attackers only gain pleasure if they know their victims are affected.

Evidence of cyberbullying should also be saved in the event a complaint is filed, he said.

Zuniga told users of social media platforms to always protect their accounts by not sharing their passwords even with their closest friends.

“The worst enemy that you can have is your best friend because you have shared so many things,” he said.

Zuniga also advised people not to leave internet cafes and other establishments without logging out from their accounts as these could be hijacked by other people.

For internet users, Zuniga said they should not share derogatory posts about a particular person as it contributes to bullying.

Zuniga said the cases of cyberbullying could still increase as they have yet to cover the entire country.

“We only have five field units consisting of 10 regions and we have 18 regions,” Zuniga pointed out.

The ACG is pushing for the purchase of additional forensic equipment to address cyberbullying and other internet-related crimes.

“We also have submitted our enhancement program and if it will be approved, there will be a lot of latest technology on digital forensics and machines that we will be having,” Zuniga said.

“What they currently have are forensic equipment obtained through grants from other countries such as Australia and the United States,” he said.

Zuniga said they are hoping to hire more personnel to beef up their roster.

The ideal number of personnel for the ACG is 162 but the unit currently has 144 people.

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