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DSWD calls on Facebook to take down pages engaged in online baby selling in the guise of adoption

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is calling on Facebook to take down its online pages engaged in the illegal selling of babies online following the arrest of a mother who tried to peddle her 8-day old baby through a middleman using an FB account.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said in a press conference on Monday (May 20) that the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), an attached agency of the DSWD, has been asking Facebook to takedown the pages engaged in the criminal activity of selling babies online in the guise of adoption but the social media provider has so far failed to act on the NACC’s request.

“That’s why we called for this presscon because, maybe through the Media ay makalampag ang Facebook na yung unregulated freedom sa Facebook should come with responsibilities na obviously, may mga bagay na klarong- klarong mali,” Secretary Gatchalian told reporters pointing to the fact that the NACC letter to FB last year has remained unanswered.

The DSWD chief said social media is a powerful tool if put to good use. “But it can also be a very cruel tool especially when it is being used for human trafficking, which is a cruel act. It’s cruel, and abusive,” he pointed out.

“So dito siguro, ang panawagan namin sa publiko is help us report kung may nakita kayo. But at the same time, we will continue engaging Facebook. So that we can regulate to some degree the utilization of their platform,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

Selling of babies is illegal under Republic Act 9208 as amended by RA 10346 (as further amended by RA 11862) or the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2023, which provides for a penalty ranging from 12 years to life imprisonment and a fine ranging from Php1 million to Php5 million.

“Ulitin ko, parang ang hirap naman turuan ang isang ina na huwag mong gawing produkto ang anak mo at ilako mo sa Facebook. And the problem with some people akala nila dahil unregulated (ang Facebook,) kayang kaya nilang gawin, pwede nilang gawin,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

NACC executive director Undersecretary Janella Estrada said her agency has been closely monitoring between 20 to 40 Facebook pages and engaged in baby and child trafficking.

“These FB pages are private accounts with thousands of followers. These social media sites are selling babies online in the guise of adoption and since February, we have been coordinating with the PNP to put a stop to this illegal activity,” Usec. Estrada said during the press conference.

The inaction of Facebook to the NACC’s letter-request may have something to do with the absence of a law that prohibits the online selling of babies unlike online child prostitution and exploitation which is covered by Republic Act 11930 or The Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act, which also penalizes the online sexual abuse or exploitation of children (OSAEC).

OSAEC is defined as “the use of ICT (information and communication technology) as a means to abuse and/or exploit children sexually, which includes cases in which offline child abuse and/or exploitation is combined with an online component.

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