MANILA – Despite the implementation of the community quarantine protocols against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Philippine National Police–Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) said it continues to be proactive in acting on complaints against harassment and other forms of violence against women and children (VAWC).
In a statement on Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Alessandro Abella, WCPC chief, said they have conducted 5,049 investigations, 3,628 arrests, and 3,462 inquest proceedings, since the start of the quarantine period in the country.
He added that a directive was issued to all women and children protection desks reminding them to exert their best efforts “to investigate, assist complainants to avail of remedies, and adopt measures that would allow complainants to safely report abuses during these times”.
“All lower units of the PNP were directed to continuously undertake proactive measures to protect women and children not only from contracting Covid-19 virus, but also against all forms of abuse, exploitation, and violence in this challenging situation,” Abella said.
Abella recognized the challenges of their investigators during the public health emergency crisis.
Some of the challenges are suspended filing of complaints pending preliminary investigation, limited and cautionary movements due to the pandemic, and initial lack of knowledge on the procedure of online filing of temporary remedies before the courts.
Another challenge is the shortage of logistics because of the closure of establishments and unavailability of public transport, Abella added.
“Needless to say, we understand that these challenges are not be made as excuses by our WCPDs to be remiss in their duties. Be that as it may, we would not turn a blind eye to those who have been neglectful and incompetent in their responsibilities,” Abella said.
PNP chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, earlier ordered a crackdown against cybercriminals especially those targeting women and children.
He said that this is part of the PNP’s Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OASEC).
Aside from this, the PNP is providing strong law enforcement support to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, and the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) along with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and other concerned agencies to strengthen the fight against child exploitation and abuse of women.
“I am operationalizing the ONE NETWORK project under the Directorate for Information and Communication Technology Management (DICTM). This will establish network connections from the National Headquarters to 17 Police Regional Offices nationwide,” Gamboa said.
It is the main highway where the audio, video, and data communication of the PNP will pass through, making it easier to transfer information and track down cybercriminals.
“Further to this, we continue to strengthen our coordination with our foreign counterparts in the field of international law enforcement to track these suspects of child exploitation online who are usually foreigners in different parts of the world,” Gamboa said.
Data from the PNP showed that VAWC cases from March 17 to June 4 decreased to 3,699, a 44.7-percent drop from 6,689 cases recorded from January 1 to March 16.
“Even with the numbers going down, we cannot ease in our pursuit of these lawless elements. The PNP is fully prepared to go after them using technology, with One Network linking information, reports, and data,” Gamboa added.
Along with the CHR and DOJ, the PNP through the WCPC urged the public to report any form of online sexual exploitation and human trafficking thru (02) 1343 or at the WCPC Hotline: 0919-777-7377 or (02) 8723-0401 local 5261. You may chat them on Messenger: @wcpcpnp. (PNA)