THE Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), which recently opened a cybercrime laboratory in Quezon City, said it will expand its operations to online fraud after initially focusing on addressing online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).

CICC Executive Director Cezar O. Mancao II said at a June 17 briefing that the opening of the facility, known as the Digital Forensics Platform and Laboratory (DFPAL), “will allow the CICC to monitor and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies in conducting thorough digital and forensic investigations and assist them in prosecuting cybercriminals nationwide.”

“We have acquire powerful state-of-the-art technology, which will improve the success rates of investigators and policing operations in the ongoing pursuit to identify, apprehend, and convict individuals and networks associated with online child sexual exploitation,” he added.

Mr. Mancao noted that the agency is taking “one step at a time” in addressing cybercrimes.

“We are also concerned with other cybercrimes that are now rampant. We have… (other) agencies that can best address those kinds of cybercrimes. For the CICC’s part, in a week or in a few days, we will launch our ‘E-Scam Alert PH’ app as well as our hotline and our websites,” he said.

CICC Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary James A. Layug said: “Scams are second (in importance after) online sexual abuse.”

“The e-scam alert… is intended to address (the problem of) scams because they also victimize many of our countrymen.”

CICC is an arm of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“OSAEC is a tragic and growing problem in the Philippines, but it does not need to be a permanent one. We will do everything that we can to protect Filipino children. We have to act now and fight against these predators. We need to help each other to protect our netizens,” Mr. Mancao said.

“The opening of this new facility will provide law enforcement agencies with updated data and intelligence that can lead to the arrest and prosecution of these predators,” he added.

The agency said that the pandemic has aggravated the problem of online child exploitation via pornography and other forms of child online sexual abuse, specifically with children from low-income families.

“To support this advocacy, we have child online protection programs and initiatives in partnership with various civil society organizations and many stakeholders,” Mr. Mancao said. — Arjay L. Balinbin