CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)–Targeting to raise awareness among law enforcement in the city on child rights and prevailing issues on worst forms of child labor and trafficking, including online sexual exploitation of children, the Regional Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Trafficking-Violence Against Women and Their Children, Violence against Women and their Children, Anti-Child Pornography (RIACAT-VAWC-ACP)-10 held the Multi-Disciplinary Stakeholders’ Training, July 29, here.
“It is this city government’s primary goal to protect and ensure the safety and welfare of our children and women as well as to safeguard their rights,” CDO Councilor Joyleen Mercedes ‘Girlie’ Balaba said during the training, which was also spearheaded by the Department of Justice (DOJ)-10, International Justice Mission (IJM)-Cebu, and World Vision Development Foundation, Inc.-Project Against Child Exploitation (ACE).
Balaba further added that the city government tries to establish a mechanism in handling cases of abuse and exploitation down from enforcement with the Philippine National Police (PNP), intervention from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and its local counterpart, the CSWD, to prosecution of the perpetrators from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
For her part, Daphne DG Culanag of World Vision Project ACE, shared the basics of child labor and provided information on how to differentiate such from child work. She also urged the participants from the police and barangay law enforcers to be conscientious in handling child labor cases by tracing those who force children to toil instead of enjoying their right to education.
“Imagine a world without child labor. Imagine a world na ‘yung mga anak ninyo nakakapag-aral, so mas maganda ang kinabukasan (that your children will be able to go to school, the future is better), they will have a better future,” Culanag added.
On protecting children against online sexual exploitation, Lawyer Louie Borja, senior assistant city prosecutor of DOJ-10, said parents and guardians of children should know the ‘red flags’ of online presence that include having varied means of internet connection, frequent trips to money transfer outlets, having multiple social media accounts, several male foreigner friends on social media; and unexplained wealth.
He also stressed that victims of online trafficking do not usually report their cases “because most of them are, nakita man gyud nila labi na ang mga (they really see these) trafficker, dili na gakasuhan nila kay ila tong (they don’t file a case because they see the traffickers as their) source of income. These children are disinterested complainants.”
Emphasizing the roles of barangay law enforcers, Lawyer Lucille Dejito, director of IJM Cebu Program Office, shared the community reporting and referral of child trafficking cases.
In handling online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), Dejito said there should be a confidential barangay blotter, then the case should be reffered to the local social worker and development office (LSWDO) or law enforcement agency (LEA). Parents or family members should then be informed, if applicable.
“Do not interview the child at the barangay level,” Dejito stressed, citing that only the desk officer of the barangay can interview the child. She also added that the interview should not take place in the presence of the alleged perpetrator.
In reporting to LEA, there should be a police blotter followed by an interview by the LEA and LSWDO. Immediate intervention should be given afterwards followed by an investigation.
PNP also equipped the participants on the OSEC and child labor trafficking investigation process while DOJ-10 shared the salient feature of Republic Act 11862 or the expanded anti-trafficking in persons act.