Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the urgency of having a law in the country that can ensure greater protection of innocent children from harmful materials in the Internet which make them vulnerable to violence and bullying.
In the 18th Congress, De Lima is expected to refile the Online Child Safety Bill which requires commercial establishments, schools and other public institutions from which the Internet can be accessed to use a filtering device.
“The availability of Internet everywhere has exposed children to violence, abusive content, and unregulated free-flowing information. Instead of improving their everyday lives, the Internet made them vulnerable to exploitative acts and other crimes,” she said.
“We need a law that can protect our younger generation from child predators, perpetrators of crime and bullies, as we also aim to stop them from turning themselves into The Bullies without even knowing it,” she added.
A report entitled “Second Revolution: 30 years of child rights and the unfinished agenda” noted that the National Baseline Survey on Violence against Children showed that close to half of Filipino children aged 13-17 have experienced at least one incident of cyber violence.
The report, which highlights the most urgent, critical and transformative child rights issues, said that nearly half of population of children aged 13-17 experienced cyber violence in the Philippines.
The said report was reportedly produced by various rights and welfare organizations, including ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, and Save the Children International, among others.
According to the report, about 5,000 children across 15 countries, aged 10-12, feel unsafe on the internet and social networks.
“What is more alarming is the fact that online violence can trigger physical violence, especially if children are not properly guided in their homes and in the schools. We want to prevent this from happening,” said De Lima.
In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1499 which requires commercial establishments and public institutions to use appropriate filtering devices that will restrict children’s access to harmful materials.
Under SB 1499, the filtering device include softwares installed in the computer or any programs activated from the service provider or any other such device that can effectively block unwanted websites particularly those containing sexually explicit and/or violent materials.
De Lima said she is refiling the same measure which also seeks to require all internet service providers and licensed commercial establishment owners to report suspected and actual operation of website containing harmful materials over the Internet, to the nearest law enforcement office in the locality.
Last year, De Lima also filed Senate Resolution No. 945 seeking a Senate inquiry into the increasing cases of child cybersex abuses in the country despite the existence of at least five laws to protect children from abuses, exploitation and violence.
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