By Genevieve Candace Poquiz

Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed her excitement on a Facebook post over the enactment of the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law, or Republic Act No. 11930, which lapsed into law alongside over 110 other bills.

Photo Courtesy of Manila Bulletin/Interaksyon

Hontiveros also commended concerned citizens for continuously reporting cybercrimes against children to her office at the Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations, and Gender Equality.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga netizens na masipag na nagrereport sa mga nakikita nilang krimen online. Dahil sa active nilang pag-tag sa akin, naflaflag natin ang Facebook, National Bureau of Investigation, at Philippine National Police para maaksyunan agad. This kind of participation is always welcome,“ the senator wrote.

The law, which was principally suthored and sponsored by Hontiveros, consolidates the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse regardless of their consent, amending the Anti-Child Pornography Act and the Anti-Photo and Voyeurism Act.

In addition, social media platforms, internet service providers, and financial institutions will be held accountable if it is proven that they are used to spread child sexual abuse and exploitative material, requiring them to coordinate with law enforcement agencies.

“Nakakalula man kadalasan ang usapin ng OSAEC, nabibigyan naman ako ng pag-asa when I see the private sector, our law enforcement agencies, and civil society coming together for the best interest of every Filipino child,” she said.

In a press briefing on July 27, the senator mentioned the three-step response that could be passed under the implementing rules and regulations of the law, as discussed with the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, and Facebook.

The three-step response involves the immediate removal of materials that violate children’s rights, preservation of evidence, and the transmission of evidence to law enforcement authorities, all of which the internet intermediaries must follow to avoid penalties.

SaferKidsPH consortium, comprised of UNICEF, The Asia Foundation, and Save the Children Philippines, also released a statement lauding the passage of the Anti-OSAEC Law in response to the country's increasing number of online sexual exploitations.

This is in relation to the 2022 Disrupting Harm in the Philippines study, which showed that 20% of children aged 12 to 17 who use the internet suffered from online sexual abuse and exploitation in 2021.

The consortium claimed that the law places the Philippines as one of the first countries in East Asia and the Pacific to have "an institutionalized and collaborative approach to prevention and response against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children."

"It provides a clear definition of OSAEC which includes the combined use of offline and online means to abuse and exploit children sexually... The law is equity-focused which ensures that child protection services and interventions are responsive to the needs of children with disabilities," SaferKidsPH lauded.

Edited by Khezyll Galvan