Philippines still struggling to protect children from sexual abuse
The United Nations declared November 18 “World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence”
Reported Cases of Violence Against Children per Type of Abuse: January 1, 2023 to October 22, 2023
The Philippines still does not have enough resources to enforce laws against the sexual exploitation of minors, keeping child abuse a significant problem in the country, according to the US State Department’s report on the country's human rights situation.
"Inadequate prosecutorial resources and capacity to analyze alleged abusers’ computers for evidence were among the challenges to effective enforcement," the country report on the Philippines said.
It also pointed out that individuals who force children into cybersex activities — some of them relatives of the victims — remain undeterred by stiff penalties and government efforts to catch offenders.
"Despite the penalties and enforcement efforts, law enforcement agencies and NGOs agreed that criminals and family members continued to use minors in the production of pornography and in cybersex activities," the report stated.
Offenders found to be producing or in possession of child pornography can be prosecuted under Philippine laws with penalties ranging from one month to life imprisonment, in addition to significant fines.
This, however, has failed to stop the Philippines from remaining a "destination for foreign and domestic child sex tourists."
"Additionally, live internet broadcasts of young girls, boys, and sibling groups performing sex acts for paying foreigners continued," the report also revealed.
It acknowledged, however, that the Philippine government "continued to prosecute accused pedophiles, deport those who were foreigners, and bar the entry of identified convicted sex offenders."
There were also efforts from the government to reduce the risk of retraumatizing child victims by allowing them to defer testifying in court and increasing instead the use of plea agreements in online child sexual exploitation cases.
Most child abuse cases sexual in nature
From 2021 to 2022, a staggering 72% of all child abuse cases on average involved sexual abuse or assault, according to the monitoring by Women and Children Protection Units.
In 2021, nearly 6,000 children were sexually abused.
This climbed to 6,600 cases in 2022.
WCPUs are established by the non-government organization Child Protection Network Foundation in health department-retained and local government-supported hospitals to increase care services for abused children. There are currently 115 WCPUs in 59 provinces.