Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros called on the anti-cybercrime group of the Philippine National Police to look into the pages of an individual posting videos about child grooming.
The lawmaker on Thursday raised the alarm on the YouTube channel “Usapang Diskarte” and its counterpart Facebook page with the same handle (@UsapangDiskarte) following posts from concerned Filipinos.
“@facebook, @YouTube, @PNPpio Anti-cybercrime group, please have a look. The people behind these accounts should be brought to justice,” Hontiveros tweeted, tagging the accounts of the PNP, Facebook and YouTube.
“To my followers, please keep reporting the Usapang Diskarte page & channel,” she added.
Hontiveros also urged the executive branch to sign the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Bill she has sponsored and filed in the 18th Congress before.
“These horrifying photos tell us what we already knew: that an Anti-Online Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of Children law is absolutely and urgently needed,” she said in another tweet.
“I call on the executive to sign the Anti-OSAEC law now. Our children need the full power & protection of this measure,” the senator added.
She accompanied her post with screenshots initially posted by a Twitter user which featured some videos and comments from the said channel.
These horrifying photos tell us what we already knew: that an Anti-Online Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of Children law is absolutely and urgently needed.
I call on the executive to sign the Anti-OSAEC law now. Our children need the full power & protection of this measure. pic.twitter.com/nnZ8rZEcQP
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) July 14, 2022
Last month, the Senate and the House of Representatives separately ratified the bicameral committee report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill 2209 and House Bill 10703.
The Senate bill is the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Act while its HOR counterpart is the Anti Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act.
The bill was up for the signature of the president for it to become a law. It was not signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte at that time.
Hontiveros said that the bill “establishes protections and guarantees for child victims of OSAEC, particularly with respect [to] their psycho-social needs” and “grants additional investigation and surveillance tools to law enforcement agents, taking into account the complexities of the internet and the dark web.”
She added that it increases the duties of the private sector, particularly electronic service providers, internet intermediaries, and financial intermediaries, in relation to blocking and preserving such content on their platforms.
The lawmaker further said that the bill will create the National Coordinating Center against OSAEC and CSAEM under the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking.
Hontiveros made the call after social media users urged each other to report the YouTube and Facebook pages of “Usapang Diskarte” which uploaded content suggesting ways of grooming a minor.
Child grooming is a form of sexual abuse in which the abuser does manipulative behaviors to the victim to coerce them into getting into a relationship or doing things that are sexual in nature.
An anti-sexual violence organization said that this includes abusers attempting “to gain trust of a potential victim through gifts, attention, sharing ‘secrets’ and other means to make them feel that they have a caring relationship and to train them to keep the relationship secret.”
“Abusers will often start to touch a victim in ways that appear harmless, such as hugging, wrestling and tickling, and later escalate to increasingly more sexual contact, such as massages or showering together. Abusers may also show the victim pornography or discuss sexual topics with them, to introduce the idea of sexual contact,” it added.
According to a 2021 Global Threat Assessment report by the WeProtect Global Alliance, the Philippines saw a 265% increase in online child sexual abuse between March and May 2020.
British newspaper The Guardian also cited a 2020 study which noted that one in five children between 12 and 17 years old in the Asian country were subjected to grave instances of online sexual abuse while using the internet.
Meanwhile, YouTube has responded to the Twitter user who posted screenshots from the “Usapang Diskarte” channel before.
“Hi, we’re looking into this and handle all next steps from here. thanks for sharing,” it said with a folding hands emoji.
Another Twitter user claimed that the National Bureau of Investigation has replied to an e-mail alerting them of the content.
“This case was consequently endorsed to the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTRAD) for immediate investigation. We note in your message that you have saved or archived the subject YouTube Videos as evidence. We appreciate this action,” part of the response allegedly said.
NBI did replied, here's a receipt pic.twitter.com/iCkZV7ecxR
— Sy Mon (@calmeister_) July 14, 2022
The Twitter user said that he only disseminates the information and that credit goes to Reddit users u/EllisCristoph and u/Anaralah_Belore223.