Project Angel Net

Let us make it clear to everyone. There is no law right now in the Philippines that protect kids from Internet predators. The Philippine National Police (PNP) knows this and has already taken a step in protecting children from online pornography and other web abuses.

To start their campaign against internet pornography, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the PNP’s investigating arm, launched its Project "Angel Net," a round-the-clock operation center and website. It is not enough, but it’s a good start in boosting police capability in fighting cyber crimes and other abuses against children.

Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa, chief of CIDG's Anti-Transnational Crime Division, said the Philippines is presently ranked 17th among countries with the highest number of Internet users. This increase usage though has also opened opportunities for cyber criminals. The worse thing is that many parents tend to be complacent when it comes to their children accessing web information from their homes.

"Apparently, every house that has a computer is a potential victim of Internet crime. At present, abuses through social networking media are increasing at an alarming scale. Crimes like online child pornography, cyber bullying and cyber stalking, Internet fraud and online scams have been hardly checked and are still proliferating," Sosa said.

CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. said their Internet child protection program’s "cyber tip line" website (www.cidgangelnet.ph) officially went live last Thursday, coinciding with the opening of their anti-cyber crime operation center.

Pagdilao said the website will serve as the "Angel Net" online complaint center where people can directly report incidents of child abuses related to the Internet. It also enhances police online visibility and encourages those who want to maintain anonymity to report crimes as they saw it.

"The operation center, which will be equipped with computers and manned by trained technical operatives, will enhance the capability of the CIDG to monitor and track cyber predators for their eventual arrest and prosecution in court," he said.

Hopefully, this project does not end here. The right step was taken even if it was initiated for media mileage, but important things remain elusive. Sensitivity training needs to be implemented nationwide, coordination mechanism are not yet in place in a country with 7,000 islands, investigative and forensic skills are nowhere near the level of other Asian countries, and procurement of technological hardware are compromised by corrupt procurement bodies.