Gatchalian seeks probe over reports of students selling lewd photos, videos online

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021   •   895

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to open an investigation following reports of students allegedly selling lewd photos and videos online.

Based on reports of The Philippine Online Student Tambayan (POST), a news portal on the student sector, several students are using #AlterPH, #AlterPinay, and #AlterPhilippines on Twitter to sell their photos and videos  so that they could buy gadgets for their siblings and pay for internet bills. 

“Nakakabahalang dahil sa mga suliraning dinudulot ng pandemya, ang ating mga kabataan ay nahaharap sa matinding panganib na maging biktima ng pang-aabuso at karahasan (It is alarming that because of the effects of the pandemic, our students are facing risks of becoming victims of abuse and violence),” he said in a statement.

There has been a spike in the number of online sexual exploitation cases compared to last year. Between March 1 to May 24 2020, there were 279,166 cases of online sexual exploitation recorded in Metro Manila; a 264% increase compared to the 76,561 cases recorded from the same period last year.

Gatchalian also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to boost its child protection program to better identify learners who may be experiencing abuse and exploitation. AAC 

Sinas says PNP won’t interfere with ‘private sector initiatives’

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Debold Sinas has assured the public that police will not interfere with any ‘voluntary private sector initiative’ that seek to provide for the basic needs of people severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sinas did not explicitly mention community pantries in various parts of the country but he said the PNP “fully supports such expression of Bayanihan culture and Filipino spirit of compassion.”

“Hindi makikialam ang PNP sa aktibidad ng mga pribadong grupo na mamahagi ng ayuda sa mga tao,” he said in a statement.

“[W]e will continue to extend utmost assistance to ensure smooth and orderly operations of private sector outreach activities with greater emphasis on the health and safety of both benefactors and beneficiaries of these public endeavors,” he added.

The PNP chief, however, slammed “apparent attempts by certain quarters to create mass hysteria by propagating falsehood and fake news over cyberspace.”

“These persons will be unmasked, investigated and their motives probed,” he said.

“Hindi namin palalampasin ang ganitong pagpapalaganap ng kasinungalingan upang magsulong ng kanilang layunin,” he added.

Sinas’ statement comes after an organizer of a community pantry in Quezon City claimed of being “red-tagged” by government authorities.

The PNP chief also promoted their similar efforts in giving to those in need, saying the continuing implementation of the PNP Food Bank Project has benefitted some 35,512 families and 8,511 other individuals.

Vera Cruz named new JTF COVID-19 shield chief

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021

Police Lieutenant General Joselito Vera Cruz

MANILA, Philippines — Police Lieutenant General Joselito Vera Cruz has been designated as the new commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced Wednesday.

“Effective on Tuesday, April 20, Vera Cruz was designated as the Deputy Chief for Operations and Task Force Commander of the enforcement arm of the national government in the implementation of quarantine rules and health protocols,” PNP chief General Debold Sinas said in a statement.

Vera Cruz replaced Police Lieutenant General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, who will retire on April 24 and whose designation has been terminated effective April 20, 2021.

“As the new commander of this task force, I expect PLtGen Vera Cruz will continue the plans and programs of the previous commander and enforce strict quarantine rules in the country to mitigate the spread of the virus while waiting for the available vaccines,” Sinas said.

The JTF Covid-19 Shield is composed of members of the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

DOJ reiterates law enforcers should not interfere with community pantries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reiterated that law enforcement agents should not interfere with anyone doing good deeds which include setting up community pantries.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a law enforcer should also not question individuals involved in community pantries unless they are violating laws.

“Suffice it to say that a person voluntarily doing an act of kindness and compassion toward his neighbor should be left alone,” he said.

“It is not proper for law enforcement agents to interrogate him unless there is reason to believe that he is violating any law, ordinance, rule, or regulation for the good or welfare of the community,” he added.

However, Guevarra refused to comment if police authorities violated the privacy act in gathering information about the organizers of community pantries. He also clarified that organizers are not required to fill out forms.

“Organizers of community pantries have no legal duty or are under any compulsion to fill out any forms, as these are not considered business, much less illegal activities,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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