PLDT and Smart partner with UK-based humanitarian organization and community sports advocate Football For Humanity (FFH) to promote sports as a preventive and rehabilitative measure against online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC).
As a continuously growing global and local child protection concern, OSAEC incidences have been notably increasing in the Philippines over the past years, especially amid the COVID-19 community lockdown measures. In May 2020, the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) reported an annual increase in OSAEC cases by 264%.
“With the goal of solving a global crime that afflicts hundreds of thousands of Filipino children, we are proud to undertake this historic “sport for peace and development” initiative with PLDT and Smart. Sports provides a platform to educate, inspire, empower and heal vulnerable and traumatized children. With PLDT and Smart’s technology and support, FFH is confident its sport-based strategy will be a formidable intervention that can empower the children to stand up against OSAEC,” said FFH Founder and President Chris Thomas.
Harping on both their commitment to upholding children’s rights and their passion for sports, PLDT and Smart are joining the FFH in raising awareness and capacities of communities to fight OSAEC through the rollout of football programs. These will be piloted in 30 communities within Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, Pangasinan, Davao City, Surigao City, Muntinlupa City, Antipolo City, and Cebu.
“PLDT and Smart recognize the critical role that technology plays in combatting OSAEC. Through our shared value partnership with FFH, we strengthen our commitment to champion the children’s rights, and create safer spaces for them, both online and offline. With technology and sports as our shared anchors, we aim to bring opportunities for vulnerable children to find hope, safety and support to continue moving forward,” said PLDT First Vice President and Group Head for Corporate Communications Catherine Yap-Yang.
PLDT, Smart, and FFH will be kicking off the program through virtual trainings with international trainers from the Coaches Across Continent. These specialized football trainings will also include capacity-building courses for local coaches on OSAEC prevention, response, and rehabilitation.
This joint initiative serves as complementing community mobilization measures, in aid of the goal of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) of the DOJ to augment reporting mechanisms on OSAEC cases.
On the technology front, PLDT and Smart have earmarked close to Php 2 billion this year to run the group’s advanced cybersecurity operations center, where cybersecurity analysts predict, prevent, detect, and respond to all types of cyber threats like phishing and scamming activities, including those related to OSAEC. As of September 15, PLDT and Smart have blocked over 66,000 URLs with OSAEC.
These initiatives underscore PLDT and Smart’s commitment to help the country attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), particularly UNSDG #16 which promotes just, peaceful and inclusive societies including the end to abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.