By Mary Judaline Partlow

OUTSTANDING WOMEN. Jerlyn P. Cabugnason from Sundu-an, Manjuyod town, Negros Oriental (in wheelchair) is awarded the 1st place in the Babayeng Garbo sa Katilingban contest in Dumaguete City on Thursday (Dec. 7, 2023). The Garbo Awards culminated the 18-day campaign to end violence against women and children. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Information Agency – Negros Oriental)

DUMAGUETE CITY – A lawyer from the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Negros Oriental on Thursday called on various sectors to intensify the collaborative advocacy and campaign against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).

During the culminating activity of the 18-day campaign to end violence against women and children (VAWC), prosecutor Emmylou Bendanillo disclosed that incidents of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the province have become “alarming” with cases filed at the different offices in the province.

The fiscal, however, could not give a specific number of OSAEC cases in Negros Oriental but said the youngest case she handled was that of a 9-year-old child.

Bendanillo, who gave a lecture on laws for the protection of women during the activity spearheaded by the Provincial Commission on Women and the Provincial Gender and Development Resource and Coordinating Center, cited the need to properly build up cases against child abusers before filing them with the court.

“These cases need proper build-up so that when a case is finally filed before our office, it is airtight,” she said.

She noted that during the pandemic, OSAEC cases rose due to children staying at home, being glued to the TV screen, with modules and online classes, and more time spent on the Internet.

Meanwhile, women and women’s groups in the province were recognized during the awarding of the “Babayeng Garbo sa Katilingban” contest.

Person-with-disability Jerlyn P. Cabugnason from Sundu-an, Manjuyod town, was awarded 1st place in the Garbo contest that recognized outstanding women individuals and groups who have voluntarily worked and nurtured a community of men and women to advance gender equality and women empowerment.

The other outstanding Garbo women winners were Lea A. Valdez from Canlaon City (2nd place) and Marilou J. Zerna from Tupas, Manjuyod (3rd place).

Cluster Level Association Malamboon from Panciao, Manjuyod town was named the outstanding women’s group who received the Grupong Garbo sa Katilingban Award.

The 18-day campaign to end VAWC runs until Dec. 12. (PNA)