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SOLON: CERTIFY ANTI-CHILD PORN LAWS AS URGENT

A neophyte lawmaker urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of stronger anti-child pornography laws to better protect minors from sexual exploitation amid fast-evolving technological advancements. 

“As long as we delay the passage of these bills seeking to amend our anti-child porn laws, we will have more child victims that are exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation. The President’s urgent certification would help focus our efforts,” Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles said.

Nograles is the author of House Bill 7633, or the “Anti-Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act of 2020,” which seeks to amend Section 9 of Republic Act 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009).

Nograles is the author of House Bill 7633, or the “Anti-Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Act of 2020,” which seeks to amend Section 9 of Republic Act 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009).

Section 9 of the law allows internet service providers (ISP) to install software that could block access to and transmittal of child pornography and notify authorities within seven days of detection of any internet address that may contain child pornography.

The same provision, however, also states that “nothing in this section may be construed to require an ISP to engage in the monitoring of any user, subscriber or customer or the content of any communication of any such person.”

Nograles filed the bill after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report revealing that cases of online child sex abuse had increased exponentially during the enhanced community quarantine in 2020. 

The bill is also a response to widespread reports of students selling their sensual photos and videos to raise money to buy gadgets for distance learning classes. 

The country’s telco operators have complained that Section 9 effectively hampers them from taking action, preventing them from monitoring and immediately blocking child pornography websites.

Nograles also emphasized the need to tackle the issue of child pornography as a whole-of-government initiative. 

“This will require planning and coordination among many government agencies, not only the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. We need information and education campaigns and more importantly, capacity-building of the key actors that go after violators. Ultimately, we need partnership with the private sector and the civil society,” the lawmaker said.

He also cited the importance of placing measures to protect children even from themselves, as data presented by resource speakers during a Technical Working Group meeting on the bill showed that children spent at least two hours using the internet before the pandemic. 

“We have to act so that children are not forced to prostitute themselves because of their needs.

“This time spent would have increased during the pandemic with the shift to online learning. This exposes our children to all possible abusive and exploitative content in the internet,” said Nograles.

“We have to act so that children are not forced to prostitute themselves because of their needs. We in government should bear the responsibility of finding solutions to ensure that the youth could continue their education,” he added.

If Nograles’ bill is passed, the first two paragraphs of Section 9 would be amended as follows:

“Section 9. Duties of an Information and Communication Technology Service Providers (ICTSP). – All Information and Communication Technology Service Providers (ICTSP) shall install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.

All ICTSP shall notify the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) within seven (7) days from obtaining facts and circumstances that any form of child pornography is being committed or has been committed using its server or facility or platform. All ICTSP shall maintain the privacy of the data captured relevant to this section while complying with notification requirements of this section. Provided, that no ISP shall be held civilly liable for damages on account of any notice given in good faith in compliance with this section. Provided further that the data captured solely for complying to this Section shall be exempt from the application of the Data Privacy Act.”

The bill also proposes that foreign nationals who have committed any sex-related offenses be barred from entering the Philippines.

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