Helpline, platform combat online child exploitation

UNDERSECRETARY Angelo Tapales of CWC and Director Ana Maria Dionela of EPCAT Philippines show the MoU during the signing ceremony at the Max’s Restaurant in Scout Tuazon, Quezon City on 21 February. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CWC

The Council of Welfare of Children and EPCAT Philippines have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their collaboration in combating child exploitation and in supporting vulnerable children.

CWC is an agency under the Department of Social Welfare and Development that initiates, promotes and advocates the adoption of policies and measures to protect children’s rights. It launched the Makabata Helpline on 21 October 2023 for the reporting of any cases and issues relating to children.

ECPAT Philippines is part of a global network combating the sexual exploitation of children. In 2021, it introduced eProtectKids, a web-based platform enabling children to report child sexual abuse and exploitation materials and incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The MoU aims to establish a framework for cooperation to protect children from various exploitation, including online sexual abuse and trafficking. Specifically, the two agencies’ objectives include enhancing accessibility to child helpline services, strengthening inter-agency collaboration, and providing immediate support to child victims. 

“The rate or the incidence of sexual abuse in the Philippines, whether this is online or offline is really alarming,” CWC Undersecretary Angelo Tapales said.

“Of course, with the advent of the anti-OSAEC (anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children), CSAEM Act we reinforced last July 2022, we are hopeful, of course with the support of the national government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the private sector, we would be able to make a dent on the high incidence or minimize the high incidence of sexual abuse particularly online sexual abuse in the country,” Tapales added.

The CWC said the MOU signifies a commitment to jointly address child protection issues, enhancing client services, and advocating for policies to safeguard children’s rights. Collaboration includes raising awareness, information sharing, capacity building through training programs, advocacy for policy development, and monitoring and evaluation of progress.

Through this collaboration, Makabata Helpline will refer CSAEM-related reports to eProtectKids for validation and material takedown procedures.

Simultaneously, eProtectKids will refer other child rights concerns to the Makabata Helpline for appropriate actions.