TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 27 (PIA) Faced by the risks from children’s unrestricted access to Internet, ASEAN authorities have joined hands to hammer a regional cooperation against cybercrime, particularly internet sex crimes, in the absence of an integrated regional stand.At the 2nd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Conference on Working Towards a Cyber Pornography and Cyber Prostitution-Free Southeast Asia hosted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-7) at Bohol Tropics April 23 to 25, more and more Asian authorities acknowledged the threat of an open internet policy and children’s unrestricted access to the world wide web.

 The more open policy for societies to the internet portals have impacted more of the region’s minors and women, sending a chill up the spines of most ASEAN leaders cognizant of the role of the young in nation-building.

In the Philippines, for example, a survey conducted in selected urban centers in the country revealed that from 2,000,000 internet users of a population of a little over 78,000,000 in year 2000, the figure increased significantly in the following years: 29,000,000 in 2010 as the country’s population zoomed to 99,000,000.

The same survey showed that more than 50% of the country internet users are minors aged 17 years old and below.

With more permissive access and unrestricted parental guidance in their internet use, coupled with poverty and the lure for fast cash, more and more minors have been drawn to the lure of easy money, according to social welfare authorities.

Studies also showed that some minors are engaged in cybercrimes including cyber sex, or the willful engagement, maintenance, control, operation whether directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system for favor or consideration, as defined by Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Beyond cyber sex, some also engage in cyber pornography, which Republic Act 9775 or the Anti Child Pornography Act of 2009 defining it as any representation, whether visual or audio or written combination of such by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities.

At the Bohol conference, ASEAN representatives also cited the need for data banking and documentation to scientifically address the issues.

With major legislative shields either pending or withheld in some member countries, participants also think an expanded and saturated information and awareness as well as advocacy campaign is crucial in keeping kids in the know of such abuses, said DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar at a press conference held in the sidelines of the gab.

Authorities in the country have served 51 cases of pornography or cyber pornography from 12 regions, in 2012.

Between 2011 to 2012, there were 23 females whom DSWD helped either as victims or survivors of cyber crimes from CARAGA region alone, DSWD handouts show.

In Region 7, from 2011-2012, DSWD noted 18 cases of cyber pornography, the same handout bared.

Despite the suspension of the implementation of the cyber laws, Usec Villar also believed that even the certainty of jail and assurance of punishment could do much to help curb the problem.

DSWD authorities echoed the secretary “concern over the community” propensity to have preschool kids dance imitations of lewd acts, one that could send a subliminal message that doing it is all right.

“Hindi naman ako nahipo-an (I am not touched anyway),” victims would later tell DSWD in rescue cases.This common response shows how we need to catch up with the education of the body as a treasure, so that people can truly appreciate the sanctity of their bodies, Jabagat said. (RAHC/PIA Bohol) – See more at: