QUEZON CITY – The Quezon City government led by Mayor Joy Belmonte and many stakeholders on Tuesday (Nov. 14) joined hands to put a stop the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).
Mayor Belmonte declared Quezon City as the “Hub and Center of Anti-OSAEC” or the “Anti-OSAEC Capital of the Philippines.”
In her speech, Belmonte said that Quezon City is deeply honored and proud to co-host the anti-online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
The Quezon City chief executive noted that 80 percent of Filipino children were vulnerable to sexual abuse perpetrated by their own parents which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the limitations on movement of people.
The family of child victims is also affected by the sufferings and difficulties in their predicament.
The pandemic likewise led to the spread of cyber pornography such that the artificial intelligence (AI) has even made it worse.
She stressed that the failure to fully implement the Anti-Cybercrime Act is not only to be blamed to law enforcement agencies, “but to all of us.”
“This urgent action is needed now, though the city government is doing its part in protecting the rights of the children,” Belmonte said.
She noted that the Quezon City government has served six cases of OSAEC and a total of nine cases of the same nature as of October 2023.
Belmonte said that “Hotline 122” is the only line to be called upon on this issue and not only in this issue, but with many other concerns. Some of the victims were referred to Bahay Kalinga.
“The Protection Center of Quezon City that provides support and assistance to victims of violence against women and their children and OSAEC, as well as the members of the LQBTA, which is recognized as one of its kind in the country,” Belmonte stressed.
“The Quezon City government is reiterating its full support and cooperation on this advocacy of preventing the commission of OSAEC,” she said.
“Let us work together to protect and secure our children from OSAEC. Let us all work to end this terrible problem in the society,” she added.
Belmonte noted that “This has always been “our advocacy of protecting and securing the rights of the children.”
Norwegian Ambassador Christian Halaas Lyster said that this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Norway, which is strong and vibrant.
Lyster added that aside from trade and commerce, there are other areas such as law enforcement, combating human trafficking and online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
“Combating OSAEC cases has been a priority of the Norwegian government, including Denmark, Finland, Sweden. Cross-border crimes require cross-border solutions,” he said.
“There is an ongoing undertaking in order to further enhance the cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of the Philippines and Norway to combat OSAEC cases,” he added.
“We are working with the law enforcement agencies, through the local government units (LGUs), and with the Mission Alliance, to strengthen such cooperation,” Lyster said.
“We must address the OSAEC cases through collaborative efforts with LGUs, law enforcement agencies, including the schools and the children themselves,” he added.
“We must make our society, just, humane and child-friendly,” he noted.
He expressed the hope that the conference would have to create awareness of the OSAEC cases and how they should be addressed.
Hei Hegertun, Mission Alliance General Secretary, said that today’s gathering is a highly important conference co-hosted by the Quezon City government and the Mission Alliance, adding that, “We are all here to combat OSAEC.”
“This Month should remind us of the joy that the children bring to the society and the community. However, this is not the case. Half of a million of Filipino children are victims of OSAEC,” Hegertun said.
“In fact, more and more Filipino children are becoming victims of sexual exploitation, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.
It can be recalled that the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard the Philippines from March 15, 2020 until the end of 2022.
“The main barriers include lack of knowledge, unwilling to report the incidents, among others. This is truly a worldwide problem. The mission requires the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, which is part of a broad alliance,” Hegertun said.
“We have so much to learn from each other. Cooperation, collaboration and alliance should be highlighted,” she added.
The Mission Alliance general secretary expressed her profound gratitude to Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, the Norwegian Embassy, the law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders for their support and cooperation in the endeavor of Mission Alliance.
The conference was a joint effort of the local government of Quezon City and several stakeholders in combating OSAEC at the Novotel in Quezon City,
With the theme: “United in Combating Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children”, the Anti-OSAEC Conference gathered together all the stakeholders, including non-government organizations (NGOs), for the promotion and protection of the rights of the children.
The Anti-OSAEC Conference was organized by the Quezon City government, the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA), Philippine Children’s Ministries Network (PCMN), Plan International Philippines, Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Mission Alliance. — By Pefecto T. Raymundo, Jr.