MANILA, PHILIPPINES- Stakeholders celebrated the recently-concluded Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership between the U.S. and the Philippines with a virtual gathering on Oct. 27, 2021.
In the last four years, the CPC Partnership made possible the rescue of 391 Filipino child victims of online sexual exploitation and the arrests of 117 traffickers. Trainings provided also equipped Philippine law enforcers, aftercare providers, prosecutors and other front liners to continue the fight against online sexual exploitation of children.
These milestones were celebrated during the virtual event, "Child Protection Continues: Until All Are Free," co-hosted by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ)- Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and International Justice Mission (IJM).
Kari Johnstone, Acting Director of the U.S. Director of the U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, commented on the event:
During the four years of the Child Protection Compact Partnership, the united States the Philippine Governments demonstrated a shared commitment and investment in improving the capacity of Filipino officials to investigate and prosecute child trafficking cases, increase prevention efforts, and ensure comprehensive trauma-informed approaches to protect victims of child trafficking. Throughout the Partnership, the TIP office was proud to support capacity-building in the Philippines to combat child trafficking through the work of IJM. The project has resulted in many noteworthy achievements.
Philippine Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stressed: "As duty bearers in the fight against child abuse and exploitation, our words and actions must convey clearly and unequivocally the depth of our intolerance for the corrupting vices and greed of those who prey upon the innocent and helpless. We will use every means within our arsenal to investigate, track down, arrest and prosecute those who violate the laws enacted for the protection of our children. We must expand our knowledge and use technology to detect cyber space activities that are exploitative of our children. We cannot allow child abusers and traffickers to profit form the anonymity afforded by cyber space."
Formalized on April 11, 2017, the CPC Partnership aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine government and civil society to address online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking in the Philippines, specifically improving their ability to prosecute and convict child traffickers, provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victims, and prevent these crimes from occurring.
DOJ-IACAT Undersecretary-in-Charge Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said:
I am proud of the efforts of the Philippine Government, through the DOJ, in actively engaging the prosecutors, law enforcers, civil society organizations, private sectors, local government officials and other stakeholders to participate and be involved in the current trends and best practices, in actual casework identification, investigation, prosecution and conviction of online sexual exploitation of children and child labor trafficking, through capacity trainings, advocacy efforts and rescue and reintegration of survivors.
"The CPC Partnership allowed us to scale our collective efforts, strengthen our capacity for survivors, and strengthen prevention and local-level response for vulnerable children in the Philippines," said Atty. Samson Inocencio, Regional Vice President of IJM Global Programs Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Attended by almost a thousand partners from governments, civil society organizations, media and other stakeholders, the virtual event presented the CPC Partnership's impact through the documentary "The Long Journey Home," which chronicled the rescue of Aaron (not his real name) and his ongoing journey toward restoration.
On July 10, 2019, then a 2-year-old Aaron was rescued from online sexual exploitation at the hands of his own father, a German national residing in Lapu-Lapu City. Aaron, whose mother is a Filipina, is undergoing therapeutic interventions under the care of Foster Care parents trained under CPC.
Another highlight of the CPC was the ground-breaking study, "Online Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines: Analysis and Recommendations for Governments, Industry, and Civil Society."
In November 2020 J/TIP, IACAT, and IJM also co-hosted the "Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children" virtual summit, which gathered global experts and stakeholders to learn from the Philippines' experience in combating the crime and spark ideas to fuel the global movement.