/ 14 January 2021

SENATOR SHERWIN Gatchalian on Wednesday stressed the need to institutionalize a comprehensive Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program to protect the youth from all forms of trafficking.

Gatchalian earlier sounded the alarm after The POST reported that some students held a “Christmas sale” of their lewd photos and videos for as low as P150 to raise funds for distance learning expenses.

The senator, in filing Senate Bill 735 or the Human Trafficking Preventive Education Program Act, proposed a program that will orient the youth about the dangers and various forms of human trafficking, including prostitution and pornography.

The bill also aims to inform the youth on the services provided by different government agencies and non-governmental organizations to aid and protect victims of human trafficking.

The proposed program aims to educate junior and senior high school, college and technical or vocational education programs students.

The community-based component of the program, on the other hand, will be implemented at the barangay level.

The Department of Justice said that exploitation of children rose by 264 percent from March 1 to May 24, 2020.

This surge was observed amid the imposition of quarantine measures to contain the spread of Covid19 and the economic hardships that followed.

“Dahil sa mga hamong idinulot ng pandemya, mas marami sa ating mga kabataan ngayon ang nanganganib na maging biktima ng online sexual abuse o cybersex trafficking. Maliban sa pagpapaigting ng ating pagtugis sa mga kriminal, mahalagang hakbang na maturuan natin ang mga kabataan tungkol sa kanilang mga karapatan at sa mga panganib na dulot ng trafficking upang hindi sila mabiktima ng iba’t ibang uri ng pang-aabuso,” the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said.

Prior to the pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Fund identified the Philippines as the global epicenter of the live stream sexual abuse trade.

The UN body also reported that eight out of 10 Filipino children are prone to online sexual abuse or bullying.