Philippines's Justice department forms team to prosecute sex and other cybercrimes

MANILA, Philippines-The Department of Justice has formed a team of specialised prosecutors to handle cases of child pornography, voyeurism and other crimes committed online.

The justice department is also urging the Supreme Court to create special courts to try cybercrime cases, Secretary Leila de Lima said in a statement.

The DOJ's Office of Cybercrime last month constituted the Prosecution Task Force on Cybercrime, a team of prosecutors tasked specifically to handle online crimes, amid the increasing use - and misuse - of information and communication technology.

"This specially trained unit is essential to enforce the new law against cybercrime. ICT (information and communication technology) is fast evolving and the department needs to learn to adapt to new threats," De Lima said.

"We also recommended to the Supreme Court that dedicated cybercrime courts be named," she said.

The Office of Cybercrime covers offences under several Philippine laws, including the 2009 Anti-Photo and Voyeurism Act, the 2009 Anti-Child Pornography Act, the 2000 E-Commerce Act, the 1998 Access Devices Regulation Act, and the 1965 Anti-Wiretapping Law.

"What will distinguish this team is its grounding on the technical aspects of investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes focused on the priorities of child abuse, business fraud and network security," said Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, the cyber crime office's head.

Prosecutor-General Claro Arellano described the team as "a combination of seasoned and dynamic prosecutors." The team, he said, has "already convened to discuss a plan of action."

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva and Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo were tasked to head the cybercrime task force.

The specialised team is among the DOJ's recent initiatives to step up its efforts against cybercrime.

Earlier this month, the DOJ partnered with National University to develop a pool of digital forensics professionals through the school's four-year degree course, Bachelor of Science in Computer Studies, Major in Digital Forensics.

Under the partnership, DOJ will provide internship opportunities to NU's digital forensics students, allowing them to get involved in live cases and participate in evidence retrieval from computer hard disks, mobile phones and other devices.

NU launched the course in 2012 as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

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