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Philippines grapples with digital literacy ranking first, second in online child abuse

MANILA (ANN/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER) – Philippine government officials revealed the country’s ranks as the world’s foremost nation in digital literacy and holds the second position concerning online sexual exploitation of children.

This disclosure emerged during Tuesday’s Senate panel discussions on the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communication Technology’s (DICT) proposed 2024 budget, where senators inquired about the accuracy of reports indicating the Philipiines’ top status in digital literacy.

“It is an accurate report from the United Nations (UN), but let me qualify that the last time that they asked for that report was [in] 2019,” DICT Undersecretary for Connectivity, Cybersecurity, and Upskilling Jeffrey Ian Dy answered.

Dy, however, said the data is now “being updated” and that he is “particularly confident” that the country has increased intermediate or average literacy in information and communications technology (ICT).

The UN defines basic ICT literacy skills as navigating a certain operating system. Intermediate skills, on the other hand, require knowledge of using worksheets and presentation software.

“Many Filipinos know how to use mobile phones, know how to use TikTok or Facebook, but they cannot navigate an operating system,” Dy noted.

In the same hearing, an official of the DICT’s attached agency, the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), revealed that the Philippines is second for online sexual abuse of children.

CICC Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary Mary Rose Magsaysay said this ranking shows that many Filipinos are subjecting their children to sexual activities online to earn money.

Senator Win Gatchalian subsequently asked DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy to explain the possible reasons behind this ranking.

“One of the reasons is poverty, but primarily, in terms of cybersecurity, we lack the necessary tools in order to identify perpetrators of these crimes and to track them,” Uy admitted.

Undersecretary for Connectivity, Cybersecurity, and Upskilling Jeffrey Ian Dy said the data is now “being updated”, since the last report was from 2019. PHOTO: ENVATO