IACAT and NBI lead the inauguration of the first Cyber-TIP Monitoring Center in the Philippines to combat human trafficking and OSEC

22 July 2021- The Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), with the support of the UK National Crime Agency (UK NCA), inaugurated the Cyber-TIP Monitoring Center, which is the first facility established in response to the increasing numbers of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) reports in the Philippines.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra; UK Ambassador Daniel Pruce; DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar; NBI Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor; UK National Crime Agency representative Jackie Greene; DOJ Assistant Secretary Nicholas Felix Ty; NBI Deputy Directors Ferdinand Lavin, Antonio Pagatpat and Vicente De Guzman; NBI–Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI- AHTRAD) Chief Janet Francisco; and IACAT Executive Director Jinky Dedumo led the formal inauguration of the Cyber-TIP Center. 

Director Distor said that the NBI had exerted twice the effort this year in monitoring social media platforms, addressing online complaints, and managing reports in light of the continued upsurge in OSEC activities since the pandemic started. He stressed that since last year, social media platforms have been utilized more frequently in committing child exploitation, be it sexual or otherwise. Needless to say, unscrupulous individuals and syndicates have now resorted to online platforms to perpetrate various forms of human trafficking.

Sec. Guevarra believes that the pervasiveness of the internet and social media usage in the Philippines have contributed to the proliferation of new modes of perpetrating trafficking in general, and the rise of OSEC in particular. Fortunately, he added, that advancements in technology can also assist in detecting and identifying perpetrators online.

“The technological nuances of OSEC are indeed challenging, as we play catch-up to modern-day criminals who change modus at lightning speed. Meticulous case build-up and precision investigations are important to build airtight cases. But expertise doesn’t come overnight. Fortunately, new tools are also available at our disposal such as the Rule on Cyber Warrants, the Revised Rules on Evidence and the Cybercrime Prevention Act.” said Sec. Guevarra.

The Cyber-TIP center is equipped with the latest software and hardware tools, and will be operated by law enforcement agents who are provided with the latest training by the UK NCA. This will help boost the country’s current capabilities in investigation and will greatly aid in the Council’s efforts to capture the perpetrators of OSEC.

Usec. Aglipay-Villar said that robust law enforcement operations, oftentimes in collaboration with the international police community, have resulted in major gains in terms of arrest and convictions, and that the establishment of the first Cyber TIP Monitoring Center is an important step towards realizing the common goal of eradicating OSEC. 

“This is the first and only Cyber TIP Monitoring Center in the country and I am certain that this will translate to a stronger response against OSEC. With this important step, The DOJ IACAT continues to find ways to further improve the overall response to OSEC by ensuring that the prevention, protection and prosecution pillars are able to effectively address the nuances of OSEC as a crime.” said Usec. Aglipay-Villar.

ED Jinky Dedumo added that the institutionalization of an intensified tech facility is crucial because with a strong cyber defense, the government can easily detect all online child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) including live streams and likewise report it in a timely manner.

“As we integrate our children in an online environment because of the pandemic, they become more exposed to online abuse. The Cyber-TIP allows the government to detect, receive, and address reports in a timely manner because there are children who need immediate rescuing.” Dedumo said

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce strongly supports this initiative to help the Philippine authorities in actively pursuing abusers even more effectively, including beyond the frontiers of the Philippines. 

Amb. Pruce said that “the United Kingdom is committed to helping the Philippines combat serious and organized crimes with impacts in the Philippines and in the UK. We are steadfast in defending global values and the rule of law and we are committed to partnering closely to share experience, expertise, and best practice in the Philippines.” 

The Cyber-TIP Monitoring Center shall be managed by the NBI-AHTRAD with ten (10) Intelligence Agents (IAs) assigned by DOJ-IACAT.