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Thursday, July 25, 2024

DOJ urges Congress to hasten crafting of SIM Card Law rules

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday urged both the Senate and the House of Representatives to speed up the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the implementation of the SIM Card Registration law.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stressed the need for the early implementation of the SIM Card Registration law because the new law would be a vital measure against child online exploitation in the country.

“We’re asking Congress, Senate  and House to speed up the IRR for the SIM Card Registration Act for it to be executory and help us identify all the perpetrators because we know that they are using prepaid and data services in online sexual case and in trafficking children,” Remulla said.

Remulla lamented that telecommunication companies have been instrumental in increasing child online exploitation cases in the country as perpetrators can do their business without fear of being discovered since they use prepaid SIM cards, which can easily be bought and discarded.

“Telecom companies are skirting blame because they are profiting from this. I hope they will have a conscience and let’s speed up the crafting of the IRR,” Remulla said, in interview with reporters.

Remulla made the call after a meeting with United Nations Special Rapporteur Mama Fatima Singhateh, where they talked about child online sexual exploitation in the Philippines.

During their meeting, he also brought up several problems that hinder the fight against child exploitation, including “very restrictive” money laundering mechanisms.

The DOJ Secretary said that payment solutions play a significant role in combating child exploitation, but payments for such illicit content usually do not breach money laundering limitations.

“They do not fall under the limitations of money laundering. That’s why they are hard to catch. The crime has already been done before you know it, but we should be working on the preventive aspect of it,” Remulla stressed.

Remulla also proposed that countries share databases of individuals with records of child sexual exploitation to prevent them from doing their illegal activities in other countries.

The Justice Secretary deplored how some perpetrators caught in the Philippines were later discovered as sexual offenders or booked for sexual exploitation. He noted that the lack of a shared database has left the Philippines off-guard.

“There should be an alarm whenever anybody tries to enter that country who has that intention and it should be a worldwide alarm against these people who are already in the blacklist,” Remulla said.

“If the alerts were earlier given to us upon entry, upon the advance passenger system, then at least we could’ve avoided their presence here because the world should be smaller for people who engage in child exploitation and all the countries should be on call to share the database so that none of them would ever leave their borders and travel to another country to do what they do,” he added.

Remulla further suggested the placement of filtering mechanisms in countries identified as top consumers of online child sexual content.

“You talk about press freedom or freedom of communication but when the content already involve online child exploitation, there should be a way of filtering it,” he said.

During his meeting with Singhateh, Remulla said he handed her an official letter outlining the government’s efforts to combat the problem of child sexual exploitation.

“We also told her about our problems with our existing laws, including our Anti-Money Laundering mechanisms which are very restrictive,” Remulla said.

Remulla also asked the UN rapporteur to push for sharing of data bases among member countries of the UN with regard to OSEC (online sexual exploitation of children).

The DOJ and other concerned agencies earlier launched an all-out war against OSEC after data showed that the country has become the top source of such illegal content.

Remulla acknowledged that one of the major challenges in addressing the problem is technological, which is vital in tracing the perpetrators.

Remulla earlier said he would be issuing an ultimatum to all telecom companies and internet service providers (ISPs)  to perform its obligations under the law that requires them to install a software that will block access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography in the internet.

Under Republic Act (RA) 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, telco companies and ISPs are mandated to install a program or software that will block access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography in the internet.

It also requires ISPs to notify authorities within seven days from discovery that any form of child pornography is being committed using their servers or facilities.

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