By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, March 1 2019; Business Mirror

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A lawmaker on Thursday moved for the amendment of the Cybercrime and Anti-Bullying laws following reported suicide cases of minors due to online games, challenges and accounts that also enable the commission of cybercrimes.

House Deputy Minority Leader Neil Abayon stated that suicide games and bullying on social media are not punishable under the Cybercrime law, or Republic Act 10175, and the Anti-Bullying law or  RA 10627.

Abayon issued the statement after the media reported that the the “Momo” challenge has been targeting children to do dangerous tasks.

“There is a need to update the Cybercrime law and the Anti-Bullying law. I noticed that suicide games and bullying on social media are not among the prohibited acts and punishable offenses. When these laws were made, suicide games and bullying on social media were not yet threats, but now they are,” Abayon said.

“Evil is running rampant in cyberspace, and among the worst are the games and groups that promote suicide, bullying, human trafficking and illegal investment schemes,” added Abayon.

Pooling experts

Abayon said he is convening a consultative group of experts to address emerging threats to the safety and security of children and adults, even as he called on Facebook and Google to take down suicide games and accounts enabling cybercrime.

“[What] we can do is appeal to Facebook and Google to take down all of these offensive websites and activities that violate their own community standards because they promote self-harm and suicide, as well as enable criminals to commit cybercrime and harassment,” the lawmaker said.

He added the government should also address the addictive facets of internet, social media and online gaming.

Abayon said he is already sending out invitations to experts who can help craft inputs to a set of bills for the legislative agenda of the AANGAT TAYO party-list, which he represents in Congress.

“We want to do this the right way, so among the people we will invite are game developers, child and youth welfare advocates, the education agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the officials of Facebook and Google,” the congressman said.

“Cyberspace is an ecological system. Forces of good and evil have made cyberspace their new battleground. We must give the government, civil society and citizens the tools, mechanisms and processes they need to fight the evil in the machine-created universes of cyberspace,” Abayon said.

In 2016, Abayon filed House Bill 04494, or an act requiring the teaching of values  education on the internet in all public and private elementary and high schools in the Philippines.