Deputy Speaker and Antique lone district Rep. Loren Legarda is prodding authorities to step up the implementation of existing laws in combating gender-based violence (GBV), particularly online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC).

Congresswoman Loren Legarda 0829 1024x682 - Legarda calls for end to gender-based violence, particularly OSEC
Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda (Congresswoman Loren Legarda Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Legarda directed her call to the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and Barangay VAWC desks.

“As digital technology has become more advanced and sophisticated, scrupulous individuals have unfortunately taken advantage of such innovations to commit criminal and illegal activities,” noted the former multi-term senator.

Last May, the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT), the International Justice Mission (IJM), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published a study on OSEC in the Philippines which indicated that the country has been referenced as the global hotspot for this crime, having the largest known source of OSEC cases.

“On one hand, we give much importance to family ties as this is an inherent Filipino trait. Unfortunately, the same could also facilitate the conduct of criminal acts. In fact, the IJM has also reported OSEC as a family-based crime as most perpetrators have been identified to be immediate relatives of the victims. These heinous acts take place in the privacy of the victims’ homes ,” Legarda pointed out.

The report cited that 41 percent of abuse cases were facilitated by biological parents, and 42 percent by other relatives, or at least 83 percent by people related to the children victims.

Legarda also emphasized the need for massive education and information drives not only on how to access government programs for assistance to victims, but more importantly, on how to prevent these violence and abuses from occurring in the first place.

Under the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Legarda, as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, sponsored the allocation of a P36.134-million capital outlay for the construction of the WCPC at the PNP Headquarters and the P11.6-million maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for its operations and activities.

“Abuses, in any form, should never be tolerated. It is about time that we stand tall and talk about it. Let all voices be heard. Let us all keep our homes safe, safe from the virus, safe from the hurt, safe from fear, and safe from gender-based violence.” Legarda said.

The lady solon is the principal author of the Anti-Violence against Women and Children Act of 2004.

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