CONGRESS should swiftly pass the proposed law that will strengthen the country’s anti-trafficking measures to counter the rising incidence of online child sex abuse, a senator said on Wednesday. 

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian called for the passage of Senate Bill 2449 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act, which aims to reinforce the current law under the amended Republic Act 9208 by providing standards and guidelines on surveillance, interception, investigation, and prosecution of different forms of human trafficking.

The Department of Justice said it received 2.8 million reports on online sexual abuse of children last year, more than double the 1.3 million reported in 2020. 

The department’s Office of Cybercrime said it launched an official investigation on 268 cases last year while most of the others were not actionable due to multiple submissions, misleading, or erroneously reported. 

Considering the increasing vulnerability of children to different forms of violence amid the pandemic, Mr. Gatchalian noted in a statement the urgency for Congress to amend the country’s trafficking laws to allow a stronger crackdown on said cases and on other forms of human trafficking.

“With the continued rise of cases of abuse using the internet, we need to provide further protection to our children and block these kinds of abuse,” Mr. Gatchalian said in Filipino. “It is time to amend our laws against human trafficking to fully stop these types of violence.” 

The bill is currently pending on second reading in the Senate, under special order since November last year. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan