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Marcos orders agencies to intensify efforts vs. sexual abuse of children

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has directed law enforcement agencies to intensify measures in combatting incidents of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

According to Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano on Thursday, Marcos was "visibly distressed" during their meeting on Wednesday over such incidents of abuse against minors.

''These things are very alarming. Yesterday, at the meeting, the President was visibly distressed, very bothered and clearly stressed with the information that was relayed to him which is why he gave the directive, a very strong directive to the DOJ, to the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to further intensify the efforts. Not to say that we have not yet put any effort into this, there are a lot of key result areas which we are monitoring, which have been mentioned by ED over here, but his directive is to further intensify these efforts, to further look into how we can come up with a holistic solution,'' Clavano said.

''Because this cannot only be done by whole-of-government approach, but if not, whole-of-nation approach which includes the private sector, the social media platforms where these crimes usually occur,'' he added.

Marcos ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and other agencies to intensify the fight against Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM).

Margarita Magsaysay, officer-in-charge executive director of the National Coordinating Council on OSAEC and CSAEM, said the illicit activities have become rampant in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Taguig City.

She added that people have been engaging in such activities for as low as P200 or P300 per transaction.

"They target the vulnerable. They are the children who are in poorer side of country, who are in the rural areas, tina-target sila because they are easy targets because OSAEC is [a] financially lucrative activity, so kung makagat na 'yung mga victims mga P300, P200 for just showing CSAEM, showing nude pictures," Magsaysay said during the press briefing.

According to Magsaysay, billions of money have been going around the OSAEC. In 2020 alone, she said that suspicious transactions amounted to more than P83 million.

''I can give you po iyong STRs, the Suspicious Transaction Report that is reported by the AMLC. So, in their study, the volume of the Suspicious Transaction Report that was reported to them by the covered persons – mga banks ito, mga money service businesses – for the year 2020 ay P83,348,106 in value. So, that’s just for the second half of 2020,'' Magsaysay said. 

''In 2021, iyong STR volume po, Suspicious Transaction Report was 68,214 – that’s the volume and iyong value naman noong volume na iyon is P996,705,339. Sa 2022 naman, the STR volume is 92,200 and its value was P478,278,797,'' she added.— VDV/RF, GMA Integrated News