PLDT, Inc. and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc., were recognized as a staunch private sector supporter of the #SaferKidsPH program, a pioneering consortium of Save the Children Philippines, The Asia Foundation, and UNICEF with support from the Australian government, that aims to reduce online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC) in the Philippines.
At the recent MOA signing between the city government of Cagayan de Oro (CDO) and Save the Children Philippines, which kickstarts a joint program to demonstrate online protection for children in local governments, City Mayor Oscar Moreno acknowledged the support of PLDT and Smart.
“Cagayan de Oro is fortunate to be a signatory of this partnership with Save the Children Philippines. I would like to thank UNICEF, PLDT, Smart, and everybody supporting this program meant to protect and ensure the safety of our children,” said Mayor Moreno.
In support of the partnership, PLDT and Smart will collaborate with youth organization Kids for Kids Philippines to equip child-friendly spaces in barangays Carmen and Canitoan with the necessary technology to report OSAEC cases, and provide access to telemedicine, or online counseling.
Atty. Alberto Jesus Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, said, “We envision communities where children are safe from and beyond the reach of facilitators and perpetrators of sexual abuse and harm on the internet. We are very excited to work with all the allies on child protection from the national and local governments, from civil society organizations, from the academe, communities, and the private sector,” he said.
UNICEF, underscoring the value of its partnership with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector, especially the ICT industry, stressed the need to establish more child online protection programs and to involve young people.
“UNICEF recognizes the important work of LGUs like Cagayan de Oro and private sector companies like PLDT and Smart to help end online violence against children. We also need the energy and ideas of youth organizations like Kids For Kids Philippines for it to be a truly effective program. It is only in this whole of society approach that we can ensure children are protected online,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said.
Child-friendly online environment
PLDT and Smart have been active in supporting efforts to create a more child-friendly online environment and a better world for children. As of June 2021, the telco providers have blocked almost 30,000 URLs linked to OSAEC. As a member of the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), PLDT and Smart have gained access to IWF’s rich database of links to child sexual abuse materials that made it faster for the two companies to deny access to online child abuse contents.
“Child protection has become a way of doing business for PLDT and Smart, beyond just regulatory compliance and corporate social responsibility. Seeing children as end-users of our connectivity and digital services, we strive to fulfill our role in keeping them safe and well online and commit to cooperate in both local and global multi-sectoral solutions to end OSAEC,” said Catherine Yap-Yang, Group Head and First Vice President of Corporate Communications of PLDT and Smart.
This initiative underscores PLDT and Smart’s commitment to helping the country attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), particularly UNSDG #16 which promotes just, peaceful and inclusive societies including the end of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children.