NATIONAL police chief Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar assured the public on Monday that special teams are ready to respond to cases involving violence against women and children amid concerns of a potential rise in domestic and online abuse during the two-week lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas.   

“We have created ways to address this issue, including our e-sumbong (e-report) which has made it easier for our compatriots to ask for help and complain because the Facebook platform itself is available for police intervention,” Mr. Eleazar said in Filipino in a news release.   

He urged the public to report incidents of violence against women and children to authorities, either through help desks at police stations or through the online platform.  

“We encourage our fellow citizens to trust your PNP (Philippine National Police) in this issue,” Mr. Eleazar said. “We must remember that there will be no abuser if no one will allow themselves to be abused.”  

Two senators have called for heightened vigilance, citing an increase in cases of abuse and exploitation during previous impositions of strict lockdowns around the country.   

“Abuse and exploitation of children inside the home is more common than our society would like to admit. Various kinds of abuse are being experienced by our children — sexual or physical — and at most times, in the hands of individuals whom they trust,” Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in Filipino in a statement on Monday.  

Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said in a separate statement that economic hardships during the lockdown could again trigger domestic violence.    

He also said stricter quarantine measures might make it difficult for victims to ask for help.  

Mr. Gatchalian cited police records showing cases of violence against women and children more than doubled to 3,600 in June 2020 from 1,284 in March the same year when the first lockdown was implemented.   

Ms. Hontiveros called on barangays and local governments to ensure that help channels are open for victims of sexual or physical abuse. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan