Online child pornography has become a “cottage industry” that flourishes in more than 30 provinces in the country, the chief of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) said Friday.
“It’s a serious problem that we have to stop,” Sr. Supt. Gilbert Sosa, ACG director, told a press briefing in Camp Crame.
On Thursday, police in the Philippines, Britain and Australia reported busting a pedophile ring, which streamed live sexual abuse of Filipino children over the Internet.
The joint effort, named Operation Endeavor, covered a dozen nations and
led to the arrest of 29 people, including 11 in the Philippines.
“It has become a cottage industry,” Sosa said of child pornography over the Internet.
He said the Philippines is among the top 10 countries identified by a Virtual Global Task Force as producers of online child pornography.
The task force is composed of Americans, British and Australian law enforcers.
Sosa said the Philippines provides child-pornography materials such as videos and photographs which are shown to customers in the US and Europe.
He showed a real-time map of the Philippines dotted with small green pins representing the sources of online pornographic materials.
“One pin represents one location and it will show you how much traffic is coming from that location,” Sosa said.
One location transmitted more than 31 pornographic materials, while another had 57, he said.
The heaviest concentrations of pins were in Metro Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City.
“The PNP-ACG has investigated the existence of child pornography in 18 provinces of Luzon, six in the Visayas and seven in Mindanao,” Sosa said.
Online child pornography proliferates especially in rural areas where poverty is prevalent.
“This is due to economic reasons . . . there are cases that it was the child’s parents who will facilitate it and the age ranges from 10 to 14,” Sosa said.
The parents earn as much as P1,000 per session, he added.
The sex-web ring charges its subscribers as much as $100 a month.
Sosa said the victims can be as young as 12.
On October 29, 2012 authorities rescued 11 minors, mostly boys and arrested 11 suspects in Angeles City, he said.
The US, Britain and Australia provided information to Philippine police on the source of the pornographic materials, Sosa said.
More than 100 non-government organizations are helping the police track down the providers of online pornography materials, Sosa said.
He said they found out that a child were not aware they were being victimized and abused by their own parents.
“The shooting, the video, photo-session and transmittal are very fast and they [child]don’t have any inkling they were already being abused . . . the payment is usually received by the parents,” Sosa said.
Some of the cybersex dens they raided in the past months were located in depressed areas. “Houses in slum areas that have Internet connections, these are the tell-tale signs,” he said.
Suspects arrested in previous operations against cybersex dens included foreigners married to Filipinas, Sosa said.
The crackdown on online child pornography is hamstrung by the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order on the implementation of the Anti-Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175), he said.
“Telecommunication companies also have a big part in the campaign . . . but with the TRO, there’s no legal basis for them to comply when it’s needed,” Sosa said.
Under the RA 10175, telecommunication companies must preserve their log of Internet transmissions for at least six months, which Sosa said is vital in tracking the source of pornographic materials.