Senate bill vs. online child abuse draws international support

Senate bill vs. online child abuse draws international support
This file photo shows a child using the camera of a cellular phone
Pixabay / File

MANILA, Philippines — Rights groups, an international development organization and the Australian government on Thursday collectively urged both chambers of Congress to immediately pass a bill that would strengthen protections against online sexual abuse and the exploitation of children. 

Senate Bill No. 2209 or the proposed Special Protections against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (Anti-OSAEC) Law, was approved last Thursday on second reading, bringing it a step closer to enactment. It was sponsored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros who chairs the committee on women. 

In a statement, the SaferKidsPH consortium of the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Asia Foundation, and Save the Children Philippines called on Filipino lawmakers "to immediately pass Senate Bill No. 2209 into law before the end of the 18th Congress."

SaferKidsPH is an initiative of the Australian Government. 

"We believe that this Bill will institutionalize existing efforts and interventions in supporting the government, introduce stronger, more responsive and protective measures for children, and involve all relevant stakeholders including the public in the fight against OSAEC," their statement reads. 

The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday similarly threw its support behind the bill, also urging its immediate passage. 

"The new legislation will clarify the meaning and application of the different forms of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children that go beyond 'child pornography,' 'child online trafficking,’ and other cybercrime," SaferKidsPH said.

"It will foster a collaborative environment between the government and the private sector, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and social media companies, to block child sexual abuse or exploitation materials and to utilize and enhance existing technological capacity and infrastructure towards early detection and prevention of OSAEC." 

Counterpart measures in the lower house filed by Rep. Victor Yap (Tarlac 2nd district) and Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero (1Pacman Party-list) are both pending in the committee. 

SaferKidsPH also called on Congress to take action on the following pending proposed measures on child rights: 

  • urgently pass the amendment to increase the age of statutory rape from 12 to below 16 (House Substitute Bill No. 7836; Senate Bills Nos. 305, 622, 739, 762, 774, 1258, and 1853)
  • promulgate the bill banning child marriage (House Bills Nos. 1486, 3899, 5670, and 7922; Senate Bill No. 1373)
  • work towards the revitalization of the positive discipline bill banning all forms of corporal punishment 

READ: Senate urged: Expedite passage of bill raising age to determine statutory rape

"As we join children and young people in reimagining a safer and better future free of violence in all forms, SaferKidsPH also urges the public to join in monitoring these legislative efforts and supporting their implementation." 

— Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from Xave Gregorio 

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