“The cause for children’s rights and welfare is not just a responsibility but a must for everyone to be concerned about.

” This was the main message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman during media launch on Tuesday of the Social Protection of Children against Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation project initiated by the Australian Government.

The Secretary emphasized, “Caring for children whose innocence is lost due to cyberpornography and caring for the children whose parents bring them into these kinds of hideous situations should be the concern of all sectors.

” She shared that the Department takes care of preventing this situation through poverty reduction programs, while the Department of Justice takes charge of putting criminals to jail.

However, Sec. Soliman said there is much to be done because although technology spurred development, it also brought the evil of victimizing children online.

She related that in her experience during raid and rescue operations, some parents would find it okay for children to engage in the crime as they are not physically abused.

The Secretary added, “The biggest challenge would be for parents to understand that online pornography destroys the soul of children.”

An abhorrent crime

On the other hand, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop stressed, “Online sexual abuse is unacceptable at any time, and utterly unacceptable in any case with children. I believe this response is timely and I am pleased to launch a much-needed and highly appropriate response to this crime of the online sexual abuse of Filipino children.”

Minister Bishop added that the Australian Government is providing two million dollars over three years for the program. She explained that the program is “designed to protect Philippine children from online sexual abuse and exploitation as this is an abhorrent crime and serious social issue not just confined to the Philippines.”

The Minister added that immediate action must be done as the existence of this crime has intensified by virtue of new technology and social media, and compounded by the fact that parents who live in poverty often use their vulnerable children as a means to obtain resources for basic needs.

Thankful for the partnership

“We thank the Australian Government for the partnership and rest assured that we want to see a child-friendly Philippines where children can play and have their rights protected and their welfare promoted,” Sec. Soliman stressed.

DSWD and DOJ are the core government actors of this program, in coordination with the Asia Foundation.

Three Australian companies – ANZ, Telstra and QBE – are also supporting the program which envisions to bring together public and private resources to help create a safe online environment for children. ###