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Congress ratifies Anti-Online Sexual Abuse of Children Bill

The Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday ratified the bill against the online sexual abuse or exploitation of children and child sexual abuse or exploitation materials.

At the Senate, Senator Risa Hontiveros, co-chairperson of the bicameral conference committee which reconciled the disagreeing provisions of the bills passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, sponsored the measure which creates the specific offense of Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and imposes penalties for the same.

The proposed measure seeks to increase the duties of the private sector, with emphasis on electronic service providers, internet intermediaries, financial intermediaries, specifically with respect to the blocking and preserving of OSAEC materials found on their platforms, and cooperation with law enforcement agents.

It will create a the National Coordinating Center against OSAEC and Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) under the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT).

Hontiveros said the bill will also establish protections and guarantees for child victims of OSAEC, particularly with respect to their psycho-social needs and it will grant additional investigation and surveillance tools to law enforcement agents, taking into account the complexities of the internet and the dark web.

The lawmaker, however, said the Department of Finance pushed for the removal of the automatic appropriation provision of the bill which means the "amounts necessary to fulfill the provisions of this act shall be subjected to the annual budgetary process."

In ending her sponsorship speech, Hontiveros thanked her colleagues for their "important interventions" on the measure.

"Truly, the 18th Congress will be remembered for many things, and one of these will be the good it has done for Filipino children. Kinararangal kong maging bahagi ng Kongresong ito [It is my honor to be part of this Congress]," she said. — BM, GMA News