Romero seeks to protect kids from online sex abuse

Michael Romero
Deputy Speaker and 1PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael Romero

DEPUTY Speaker and 1PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael Romero filed House Bill (HB) 6923 or the OSEC Act of 2020 that would protect children from being victims of online sexual exploitation.

In his proposal, Romero sought the creation of an Inter-Agency Council on Online Sexual Exploitation Against Children (IA-OSEC) to be composed of various agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Justice, Philippine National Police, Department of Education and the National bureau of Investigation.

The inter-agency body is tasked to formulate programs and projects to eliminate OSEC and will serve as the monitoring body with rewards OSEC initiatives.

HB 6923 defines OSEC as acts of a sexually exploitative and abusive nature against a child that have, at some stage, a connection
to the online environment, as through the use of the internet and social media applications.

OSEC includes any use of ICT, resulting in sexual exploitation or causing a child to be sexually exploited or results in or cause images or other materials documenting such sexual exploitation to be produced, bought, sold, possessed, distributed or transmitted.

Citing statistics from the Department of Justice (DoJ), Romero disclosed that there has been a 264 percent increase in OSEC incident in the country since government imposed the enhanced community quarantine since March.

“Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the DOJs Office of Cybercrime on May 25, said that a total of
279,166 cases of internet-related sexual exploitation of children have been reported starting March 2020,” he said.

Among the cases reported to the justice department and the police included possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography; online entertainment of children for sexual acts, child sex trafficking, sex tourism involving children, extra-familial child sexual molestation, unsolicited obscene material sent to a child and misleading words or digital images on the internet.

“There is urgency in the passage of this measure.  We have to quickly prevent, respond and end online sexual exploitation of children,” said Romero.

The bill treats all records pertaining to OSEC cases confidential. Publication of information without the consent of the victim or an
immediate family member is prohibited.

HB No. 6923 also grants the barangay or courts the authority to issue protection orders to prevent further OSEC violation that may further harm the well-being of victims or disrupt his/her an normal way of living.

Romero said the bill also underscores the protection of the rights of OSEC victims, which include the assignment of legal counsel,
entitlement to support services from the DSWD and local government unit concerned and treatment with respect and dignity.

For unlawful acts not included in the Revised Penal Code and other special laws such as the Cybercrime law, penalties for violation of the OSEC At of 2020 include a minimum imprisonment of three years and fine of not less than P500,000.