Child welfare group pushes for enforcement of Anti-Child Porn Law

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

The children’s welfare advocacy and party-list group Akap-Bata recently called on the Benigno Aquino III administration to enforce Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009. It also aired its dismay over what it said was the Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography’s (IACCP) “poor performance” since the law was passed in November 2009.

“No culprit of child pornography has been convicted in the almost 30 months since the law’s passage. We want to know if the agency has made any headway in implementing its mandate. We want violators of children’s rights to be punished and for this to serve as a strong warning to the masterminds of child pornography in the country,” said Akap Bata Party-List secretary-general Arlene Brosas.

Brosas said the Aquino government and the IACCP should “do their homework” so they can implement the provisions of the anti-child pornography law. She said the agency should put together a child pornography database to monitor all incidents of child porn in the country. This, she said, can be the starting point for the agency’s strategic plan of action.

“The government can only implement the law if it has strong political will, deep sincerity, and love for children. RA9775 has been a victory of child rights advocates in the country and serves as cornerstone legislation for the protection of children against exploitation. This victory must not be wasted,” Brosas stressed.

Akap Bata Party-List is one of the lead organizations who led a nationwide campaign against child pornography from 2007-2009 that resulted in the passage of RA9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 in November 2009. The group also leads the formation of the Anti-Child Pornography Alliance in 2007 that lobbied various proposed bills against child porn in both Houses of Congress.

The Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 penalizes individuals or groups who produce, distribute or assist in the transmission or promotion of child pornography through various media including the internet. The law states that children exploited in pornographic material are to be considered as victims of violent crime. Perpetrators can face up to a P5 million ($116 thousand) fine or a life sentence.

In the meantime, the law also holds internet providers and hosts liable for the content provided by their services.
When the law was passed in 2009, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in the Philippines Vanessa Tobin called child pornography “child abuse.”

“The use of children and young people in pornographic materials is a grave violation of their rights, whatever their role in the process. The passage of the anti-child pornography bill is a great achievement for efforts to protect children and prevent the problem escalating even further.”

Act to stop child pornography now

Akap Bata Party-List also issued a challenge to all government agencies involved in children’s welfare and advocacy to devise plans on how they will enforce RA9775 down to the grassroots level. It said legislators in the local government units should submit counterpart legislative proposals and measures, city ordinances and barangay resolutions on the same. It also said highlighted what it said was a need for information-dissemination campaigns in the city, municipal and even in the barangay-levels so that local authorities and citizens can effectively monitor and stop child porn activities.

“The government must also work hand-in-hand with various stakeholders of children’s rights and must step-up its efforts. People and even children can easily access pornographic materials over the internet and other means of social media, and this must should be stopped,” she said.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Brosas said it is “highly lamentable” how government agencies tasked to monitor and put a stop to activities of child pornography have not even begun to take action.

“Local government units’ child welfare desks have nothing. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD has no database either,” she said. She explained that the anti-child pornography law’s IRR or implementing rules and regulations (IRR) has already been released to define the parameters of the law and what constitutes child pornography, but so far no action has been taken that children’s advocacy groups are aware of.

Late in November last year, reports came out that a Massachusetts , United States-based Filipino priest who was caught with child pornography in his computer disappeared before he could go on trial. The priest, Rev. Lowe B. Dongor, is suspected to be hiding in the Philippines.

Based on reports, Dongor was arraigned in Fitchburg District Court on September 12, 2011 on charges of possessing child pornography. The newspaper Telegram said images of child pornography were found in the priest’s laptop. The independent computer service company, which flagged the pornographic material, informed the local police. The report noted that court documents reveal that the images found in the priest’s computer depicted prepubescent girls in various states of undress.

“If this priest is in hiding in the Philippines, what has the IACCP done to find him? It should coordinate with the police authorities and other agencies to find him,” Brosas said. ()

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  1. A convicted Jesuit priest from the Philippines
    Fr. Angel Crisostomo Mariano, 55 a transvestite Jesuit priest and a Philippine native, was one of six Jesuits caught up in a Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. As many as six Jesuits allegedly abused two disabled lifetime employees of the Jesuit Order at the Jesuit retirement home in Los Gatos, California. The Jesuit Order avoided a trial by paying $7 million.

    Fr. Mariano was additionally convicted after a report of oral sex with a 17-year-old boy he met in an Internet chat room where Fr. Mariano posed as a woman. Mariano spent five months in jail.

    Fr. Angel Crisostomo Mariano may have returned to the Philippines.

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