/ 7 January 2021

THE DEPARTMENT of Education has opened its own investigation of reports that some students have been selling lewd photos and videos on Twitter to raise money to finance their online classes.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the department has started a separate investigation and is consolidating information from its field offices related to the “Christmas Sale” issue.

DepEd earlier said it was deeply alarmed by the story broke by the Philippine Online Student Tambayan on the sale of lewd photos and videos and vowed to cooperate with other government agencies to prevent and address pornography among students.

The Department of Justice earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation and file appropriate charges against persons involved in the sexual exploitation of children.

The Education department urged schools to ramp up the efforts of child protection committees, which are tasked to identify and report to appropriate offices cases of child abuse and exploitation.

Briones earlier said that gadgets or internet connections are not requirements for distance learning as there are other alternative learning modalities.

In September 2020, UNICEF Philippines called on the Philippine government to protect Filipino children by combating online sexual abuse amid the pandemic.

“The Philippines is considered the number one source of child pornography and a source of income for many who are living in the margins of society. The Covid19 pandemic is worsening the incidence of online sexual abuse and exploitation in the Philippines. Children are increasingly becoming victims of circumstances that are harmful to their development and well-being. This must stop,” UNICEF Philippines said.