A Senior Department of Foreign Affairs official is hopeful the visiting UN Special Rapporteur, who will be in the Philippines until December 9, will acknowledge the government’s efforts to fight online sexual exploitation.
The Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat told GMA News Online that Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, arrived on Sunday and called on the DFA officials Monday.
DFA Undersecretary for Multilateral and International Economic Affairs Carlos Sorreta was hopeful Singhateh would “recognize the achievements and best practices of the Philippine Government to eradicate online sexual exploitation of children.”
He cited Republic Act 11930 or the Act Punishing Online Sexual Abuse of Children, and the creation of the National Coordination Center as among the government’s programs aimed at preventing any form of child sexual abuse or exploitation.
Sorreta stressed “international cooperation and shared responsibility among countries is required to address external demand factors that fuel online exploitation of children.”
He said the Philippines was committed to safeguarding all Filipino children and upholding its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Commission on Human Rights earlier said that Singhateh would be assessing the situation and the progress made in combating and preventing the sale and sexual exploitation of children in connection to international human rights norms and standards.
Singhateh’s visit is the first official visit of a UN Special Rapporteur to the Philippines since 2015.
“Ms. Singhateh noted that this reflected the Philippine Government’s continued constructive engagement and openness on human rights,” the agency said in a statement.
Sorreta also told Singhateh of the government’s plans to ensure the success of her visit, and that the Philippines was looking forward to her observations and recommendations.
“We hope to continue working with you, also regionally and globally, to support your mandate and enhance protection of all children from online sexual exploitation,” the DFA official said.
During her visit, Singhateh is expected to meet officials from the Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, Philippine National Police, and other government agencies.
The UN Special Rapporteur will also meet with civil society representatives, private sector stakeholders, and children and their families; and will visit sites in Valenzuela City, Angeles City, Cotabato City, Cebu City, and Metro Manila.
The Council for the Welfare of Children, meanwhile, said in a statement that a comprehensive report of her country visit will be shared with the Human Rights Council in March 2024.