MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) Acting Chief PCol Portia Manalad expressed her gratitude for the support of international and local law enforcement agencies in the fight against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) during the fourth founding anniversary of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC).
“On February 27, 2019, a shared goal for a world where children are free from abuse and exploitation through an enhanced global response brought together local and foreign law enforcement agencies,” PCol Manalad said in her opening statement.
“The PICCAC was built on the premise to act as a central hub for case referrals and resource center for local and foreign law enforcement for collaborative efforts to combat Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC).”
PCol Manalad also highlighted that the PICACC also aided in anti-Trafficking in Persons (TIP) cases across the Philippines.
In turn, the Philippines is only one of two Southeast Asian countries who retained its “Tier 1” ranking in the United States’ 2022 Trafficking-in-Persons Report in the last seven consecutive years, which means that it has “met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons by demonstrating serious and sustained efforts to address the problem during the covered period.”
Multi-law enforcement approach
The PICACC is a joint effort established by the local and international agencies to strengthen the global law enforcement support in addressing OSAEC in the Philippines.
Various local and international law enforcement agencies and government offices such as the the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI), Anti Human-Trafficking Division (AHTRAD), the Australian Federal Police, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK-NCA), the Netherlands Police, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and non-government organization partner, International Justice Mission attended the event.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was the keynote speaker, thanked the PICACC for its help, as the Philippines has been able to “effectively patrol the digital world for these crimes and protect [our] children for becoming victims for online sexual exploitation.”
“Our message today is that we in the Senate are with you in this fight [and] we in the Senate support you,” Zubiri said towards the end of his keynote speech. “I wish PICACC continued success, and I assure you all that we remain steadfast in serving justice for victims of online sexual abuse and creating a safer world for our children.”
Combating OSAEC cases
One of the highlights of the numerous accomplishments of the PICCAC was the joint operation resulting in the arrest of Europol’s most wanted criminal in Cebu, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for producing child sexual exploitation materials.
Since its inauguration, it has carried out 201 operations which resulted to 577 rescued victims and arrested a total of 122 facilitators, wherein 62 of each were finally convicted, even despite the mobility limitations due to the pandemic.
According to the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), close to 9,000 abuse cases of children were recorded throughout the country in 2022, with most of the abuses committed against adolescents aged 15-17.
In 2022 however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also released data from the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, showing an increase in reports of alleged child exploitation cases — from more than 1.3 million in 2020, up to almost 3.1 million in 2021.
PCol Manalad said that “the fight against OSAEC is one of the most important human rights concerns” and that the WCPC, together with multiple law enforcement agencies will stand by their sole mandate to serve and protect.
“We are also true that the PNP’s slogan, headed by Chief PGEN Rodolfo Azurin Jr., that life is indeed beautiful. Ang kaligtasan ng bawat bata ay sagot natin. Tulong-tulong tayo.”
For any cases of abuse, specific to women and children, call the PNP-WCPC’s hotline at: 0966-725-5961 (Globe) and 0919-777-7377 (Smart) or message their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wcpc.didmpnp.