MANILA, Aug 24 (Mabuhay) — The United States is fully behind the Philippine government in combatting the rampant sexual exploitation of children in the country, the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, HSI Attaché Ricardo Navalta said the US will continue to help the Philippines develop best practices and programs to stop predators from having access to Filipino children as well as to educate the population against the act.

“There are a lot of programs that the United States has that we will provide information on and hopefully be able to educate the community, teachers, parents, everyone that we can,” he said.

Since 2018, the US has been in close coordination with the Philippine National Police in combatting transnational crime, trends, sexual misconduct, and child exploitation, among others.

The US is also working with counterparts from the United Kingdom and Australia to conduct training and help the country prosecute offenders.

Navalta said concerned agencies are now in the process of including the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Social and Welfare Development, and other Philippine government offices in the collaboration.

“[T]his is a global problem and I think that all countries that can come in and participate in this (serve as) a very big opportunity for us to really make an impact,” he said.

Philippine Special Envoy to the United Nations Children’s Fund Nikki Prieto-Teodoro said cases of online sexual exploitation of children almost tripled since most children were locked at home during the pandemic.

“[L]ockdown played a big part, of parents, actually marketing their children online for profit. The fact that it’s easy to put up a site, you put one, you can have ten at the same time. So it’s technology that made it easier for these perpetrators to market their children,” she said in the same presser.

“Now, we have to play a bigger part in protecting our children by reporting it immediately,” she said. (MNS)