Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

Published Apr 26, 2024 04:14 PM PHT

The Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) on Friday urged all local government units to begin implementing child protection programs, following the directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to intensify the campaign against online sexual abuse of children. 

In a televised briefing, CWC Executive Director Usec. Angelo Tapales said LGUs should start by allotting funds for such programs.

“Iba’t ibang programa po iyan, kasi kapag sinabi natin na children in need of special protection, pwede po ito ay biktima ng violence, physical violence, emotional violence, kasama na po diyan ng peer violence na tinatawag nating bullying, sexual violence or online and offline,” he said

“Pwede po silang maglabas ng ordinansa para pondohan din ito at gastusan. We want to focus on child protection po, and we will focus on violence against children which is of course, online sexual abuse,” he added.

The CWC, together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), recognizes LGUs that have child-friendly programs through an annual and mandatory audit program.

In its 2022 audit report released in 2023, 782 LGUs passed the audit and received the seal of “child friendly local governance”.

This figure is more than double the 372 LGUs that received the same award in 2021. 

“Child-friendly ka if you roll out projects, programs and activities for children, binabudgetan mo iyan, nag-ii-spend kayo at nagiging effective iyan. There are indicators, may manual po diyan,” Tapales said.

“Mas pagiigitingin po namin, we will tighten the indicators especially with that directive of the President to really combat online sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” he added.

Marcos Jr alarmed over online sexual abuse of children

Based on a 2016 study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 80 percent of children in the Philippines were “susceptible to online sexual abuse” while 71 percent of Filipino children had been using the internet, Tapales noted.

The same study found that 84 percent of victims of online sexual abuse were girls, while 42 percent of the perpetrators were their parents and close relatives.

Tapales said that poverty, underemployment, Filipinos’ fluency in English and access to technology were the top reasons for children’s exposure to online sexual exploitation and abuse in recent years.

To stop this “increasing trend”, CWC urges parents to be “responsible digital parents and digital adults.”

“Maging mapagmasid, tingnan niyo po  ang inyong mga anak, mga pamangkin, kung may pagbabago sa kanilang behavior,” Tapales said.

“Para sa oldies natin na kaunti, mag-aral po kayo ng internet, social media, iyang mga gadgets, tablets para po  alam po natin paano ito turuan ang ating mga anak kung ano po ang red flags na dapat nilang  iwasan,” he added.