Online child abuse leading cybercrime in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   April 16, 2019   •   4554

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has noted that online child abuse is the top cybercrime in the Philippines.

According to UNICEF Country Representative Julia Rees, the massive presence of Filipino children online makes them “vulnerable to online sexual abuse and exploitation.”

UNICEF argued that such crimes are made possible with new technologies, such as live streaming which puts more Filipino children at risk.

The National Baseline Survey on Violence Against Children shows cyber violence is affecting one in two Filipino children aged 13 to 17.

“One in three internet users is a child,” Rees said.

“While the government has been trying to respond to the demand, breadth, scope and agility of the technology-not to mention the extreme accessibility of digital platforms – there must be more that we can do together to protect our children,” she added.

To help protect Filipino children from online abuse, the Australian Embassy in Manila pledged to provide P298 million over the next six years to fund the SaferKidsPH program which aims at reducing online sexual exploitation in the country.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said, “Addressing online sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a global concern.”

Through the SaferKidsPH project, the Australian government reinforces its commitment to support the Philippine government in its efforts to address cyber abuse and violence which he considers a “complex form of human trafficking.” – Marje Pelayo

No shortage of syringe supplies for COVID vaccination rollout — DOH, NTF

Maris Federez   •   December 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 have ensured that there are enough supplies of syringes – both 0.3ml syringes (microsyringes) that are compatible with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, and 0.5ml auto-disable (AD) syringes for all other vaccines.

In a statement, the DOH and the NTF on Sunday (December 12) said that the syringes were procured in two batches through UNICEF.

The first batch was composed of 8 million 0.3ml syringes worth Php29.1 million which were completely delivered last October 2021. Funding for this came from the savings from CY 2020 UNICEF procurement.

The second batch, consisting of 44 million syringes amounting to about Php152.6 million, was financed through the Asian Development Bank.

“Of this second batch, 4 million will be delivered in December 2021 and remaining 40 million during the first quarter of 2022 due to global supply shortage,” the statement further said.

The country has, so far, received 3,653,000 of the said 4 million syringes.  The rest, the statement said, is expected to arrive this coming week.

The two batches of the said 0.3 syringes totaling 52 million pieces cost around Php3.25 per piece or USD 6.5 cents (Php50 = USD 1), including the cost for logistics.

“Even with the delays in delivery of microsyringes, we made sure that we can still administer the Pfizer vaccines that we procured by using tuberculin syringes. The government together with LGUs and the private sector is working hard to increase our vaccine coverage to protect more Filipinos against COVID-19. Through our Bayanihan, we achieved 2.82 million jabs in one day,” said Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Dizon, Presidential Adviser on COVID-19 Response.

The DOH added that it has also purchased 100 million pieces of 0.5ml AD syringes last April 2021 for Php2.38 per piece, from an initial approved budget of Php2.50 per piece.

“We are continuously ensuring enough supplies of syringes for our COVID-19 vaccination program – noting that 0.3ml syringes are different from 0.5ml syringes, and as such would have varying prices. We assure the public that the DOH is continuously ensuring a sufficient stockpile of syringes and that processes to obtain these are consistent with the provisions of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act,” said Atty. Charade Mercado-Grande, Undersecretary of the Health Regulation Team. —/mbmf

Public urged not to click unverified links amid text scam surge

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OCC) on Wednesday called on the public to be vigilant with their transactions online.

The DOJ-OCC issued the advisory amid the surge of SMS/text scams offering dubious job opportunities.

The department advised the public to be cautious before taking up an opportunity to work offered by unknown SMS senders.

It also shared some tips to discern fraudulent job ads.

 “A fraudulent job posting will either ask the applicant to pay for application or training fees or promise high wages,” it said.

“It would also require the applicant to answer extensive personal information questionnaire that would then be used by the scammers to commit identity theft,” it added.

The DOJ-OCC also urged the public to also be wary of online messages containing links to other sites as this may be a way by scammers to steal their personal data.

“Do not click unverified links and do not give away personal information easily.

The Department of Justice – Office of Cybercrime would like to remind everyone to remain cyber safe for a happy holidays,” it said.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) earlier said its initial probe showed that a global organized syndicate could be behind the proliferation of text scams.

The NPC said it has summoned data protection officers of local telcos, banks, and e-commerce platforms to discuss the scam text surge.

The National Telecommunications Commission has ordered telcos to send a warning to their subscribers against text scams that contain dubious job offers.

 

Teachers should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, UNICEF says

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2021

Teachers and school employees should be included in groups prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations to allow the return of children to schools around the globe, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

In a statement on Monday, UNICEF said the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on children’s education, and vaccinating teachers is a critical step towards putting it back on track.

“UNICEF is calling for teachers to be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated. This will help protect teachers from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open,” the UN agency said.

UNICEF said that in late April 2020, school closures disrupted the learning of almost 90 percent of students worldwide.

While that number has dropped since, the agency noted that there continues to be an “unsupported assumption that closing schools may slow the spread of the disease, despite increasing evidence that schools are not the main driver of community transmission.”

“As a result, as cases are skyrocketing in many countries around the world, communities are again closing schools. As of 1 December, classrooms are closed for nearly 1 in 5 schoolchildren globally – or 320 million children,” it said.

While the agency recognized that decisions about vaccine allocation ultimately rest with governments, it stressed that the consequences of extended missed or impaired education are steep, especially for the most marginalized.

“The longer children remain out of school, the less likely they are to return, and the more difficult it is for their parents to resume work,” it said.

“These are difficult decisions that force difficult tradeoffs. But what should not be difficult is the decision to do everything in our power to safeguard the future of the next generation. This begins by safeguarding those responsible for opening that future up for them,” it added.

Some countries have closed schools amid the rapid spread of the more contagious coronavirus variants.

In the Philippines, some groups have been pushing for the resumption of limited in-person classes in areas with little to no COVID-19 cases for students’ better learning.

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