Even if there are several laws in place that seek to protect children from abuse and exploitation, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento lamented that law enforcement agencies still struggle in implementation.

11AM SAT 09052020 1024x536 - Legal loopholes expose children to abuse, exploitation — CHR
(AFP Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

During the Tanggol Karapatan episode on the rights of children in a pandemic hosted by Radyo Veritas on Saturday, Tanodra-Armamento said that there are “so many loopholes” in the laws against child abuse and exploitation that even law enforcers don’t know how to properly implement it – especially now during the time of a pandemic.

More often than not, law enforcers resort to just locking up those who violate the law. But Tanodra-Armamento stressed that this should not always be the case. “We have to educate law enforcers that detention of children is the last resort,” she said.

Some of the laws that protect children in the country are R.A. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; Section 31 of the Magna Carta of Women; R.A. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003; and R.A. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The DOJ’s Office of Cybercrime (OOC) has earlier reported that there has been a spike of OSEC cases because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). There were 279,166 incidents reported from March 1 to May 24.

Toni Flores from the Child’s Rights Network (CRN) likewise lamented the apparent spike in cases of poverty, abuse, and even sexual abuse among children during the same forum.

She cited the findings of the International Justice Mission (IJM), which reported that perpetrators of abuses are sadly the parents themselves. Because of the pandemic and the government-imposed quarantines, parents have lost their jobs and the incidence of poverty increased.

With people now being dependent on the digital platform, Flores said that parents unfortunately resort to “harmful alternatives” just to feed their families.

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