THE PHILIPPINES and European Union (EU) Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) have agreed to boost cooperation in investigating cross-border crimes including cases of online child sexual abuse, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo J. Malaya and senior officials from the DoJ, National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Immigration were part of a delegation that participated in the discussions in the Hague on May 24, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This significant meeting with Eurojust paves the way for more exchanges of information and best practices at the institutional and policy levels,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said in the statement.

Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran and Chairman for Board on Relations with Partners Jose de La Mata briefed the delegation on the EU agency’s partnerships, DoJ said.

Mr. Malaya said the discussions would help bolster Philippine efforts to combat cross-border crimes including the online sexual exploitation of children.

He said the parties had agreed to establish “cooperative working arrangements” to probe cases of cross-border crimes.

The Hague-based agency coordinates with EU member states and other countries in investigating and prosecuting transnational crimes, according to its website.

On May 18, the Social Welfare department and DoJ finalized the rules that will enforce a law that protects children against online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Mr. Remulla has said the country’s task force against human trafficking would use the country’s anti-money laundering mechanisms to restrict transactions related to the online exploitation of children.

He earlier said the Philippines remained a primary target for online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, citing poverty and widespread internet access as factors.

The government will coordinate with the United States Department of Homeland Security to track down foreigners in the country who are involved in child abuse, the Justice chief said.

Data from the Interior and Local Government department showed authorities conducted 227 operations against online sexual exploitation and convicted 67 people behind illegal websites from 2017 to July 2022.

Mama Fatima Singhateh, United Nations special rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, said in December the Philippines lacked trained officials at the village level to monitor reports of child sexual abuse. — J.V.D. Ordonez