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DSWD seeks Facebook action vs pages, accounts selling ‘babies’

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has pressed its call on Facebook to take down pages engaged in the illegal selling of babies online following the arrest of a mother, who tried to peddle her eight-day-old baby through a middleman using an FB account.

Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), an attached agency of the DSWD, has been asking Facebook to takedown the pages engaged in the criminal activity of selling babies online in the guise of adoption but the social media provider has so far failed to act on the NACC’s request.

Gatchalian said the NACC asked Facebook to take down those pages last year, but the company has not acted on the matter.

He said social media is a powerful tool if put to good use. “But it can also be a very cruel tool, especially when it is being used for human trafficking, which is a cruel act. It’s cruel, and abusive,” he pointed out.

“So maybe, here, our appeal to the public is to help us report if you see something. But at the same time, we will continue engaging Facebook, so that we can regulate to some degree the utilization of their platform,” Gatchalian said.

Selling of babies is illegal under Republic Act 9208 as amended by RA 10346 (as further amended by RA 11862) or the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2023, which provides for a penalty ranging from 12 years to life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P1 million to P5 million.

“Let me reiterate, it seems like it’s hard to teach a mother not to treat your child like a commodity and sell it on Facebook. And the problem with some people is that they think that because Facebook is unregulated, they can do it, they are allowed to do it,” he said.

The NACC executive director, Undersecretary Janella Estrada, said her agency has been closely monitoring between 20 to 40 Facebook pages that are engaged in baby and child trafficking.

“These FB pages are private accounts with thousands of followers. These social media sites are selling babies online in the guise of adoption and since February, we have been coordinating with the police to put a stop to this illegal activity,” Estrada said during the press conference.

The inaction of Facebook to the NACC’s letter-request may have something to do with the absence of a law that prohibits the online selling of babies unlike online child prostitution and exploitation which is covered by RA 11930 or the Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act, which also penalizes the online sexual abuse or exploitation of children (OSAEC).

OSAEC is defined as “the use of ICT (information and communication technology) as a means to abuse and/or exploit children sexually, which includes cases in which offline child abuse and/or exploitation is combined with an online component.”


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