Philippine bishops warn against prevalence of cyberporn

Digital age has led to a 'pervasive social cancer,' prelates say
Philippine bishops warn against prevalence of cyberporn

Philippine Catholic bishops discuss the problem of online pornography during their annual plenary assembly in Cebu in January. (Photo by Roy Lagarde)

Philippine Catholic bishops have warned against the "pervasive social cancer" that has been on the rise on the Internet, especially with the prevalence of pornographic websites.

Describing pornography as a "contemporary tragedy," the prelates warned that children these days have become too attached to digital media. 

"Therefore, parents must be held responsible in monitoring and supervising their children's access to the Internet," said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishops' conference, in a Feb. 11 statement.

Citing data from a 2015 Study of World Internet Users and Population Statistics, the bishops said Filipino children are among those with the highest access to the Internet in Asia.

A 2013 study on the youth conducted by the University of the Philippines' Population Institute show that 56.5 percent of Filipinos aged 15-24 have been exposed to pornographic videos, 35.6 percent have been exposed to sexually explicit reading material, and 15.5 percent have viewed pornographic websites.

"Given the all-pervasiveness of the Internet, it should not be surprising that pornography has invaded our homes, workplaces, schools, and churches," said Archbishop Villegas.

As early as 2009, the country's Catholic bishops warned against the "evils" of pornography in a pastoral letter.

In that statement, the bishops emphasized the need for integral and coordinated effort among professional communicators, parents, schools, authorities and the public to combat "this social malady."

Philippine authorities have warned that the country has become a major producer and distributor of pornography, especially of child pornography.

In 2014, the Philippine National Police's Anti-Cybercrime Group reported that the country was among the top 10 nations for the production of online child pornography.

During their plenary meeting in January, the country's Catholic bishops noted that child pornography in the Philippines is fueled by perpetrators who are exploiting poor and vulnerable families and their children.

"These are Filipino children whose innocence has been consumed for the pleasure of others," said the prelates' statement.

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