Before the pandemic, a senior citizen is at the frontline to combat OSEC
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country a few months ago, many heroes have emerged such as the medical and security frontliners to ensure safety and order in the country. A similar story can be found in an urban village in Cordova, Cebu where a 74-year-old woman leads an advocate group that aims to combat Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC).
Filotea Jubay, along with a group of community workers, have been making rounds in the neighborhood to share awareness to families about the danger of OSEC and how to protect their children from it.
The mother of fourteen kids continue to serve her community despite her old age because she was able to develop a strong Christian foundation during her youth. She worked in a school managed by nuns for 34 years. She was a preschool teacher and a catechist in the school. In her free time, she talked to single mothers who needed counseling.
“The nature of my work allowed me to deepen my faith and act on it through service for others,” Filotea shared. “The most important lesson I live by until today goes like this‘a person is of more value than the whole world.’”
In 2013, she realized that she was ripe enough to explore outside her comfort zone. She decided to resign and go back to her roots and serve the community. “This village is where most of my relatives live. During the time that I returned here, child exploitation was rampant.”
In Filotea’s village, OSEC was a prevalent concern. It was even dubbed as a ‘cybersex den’ by an international media in a 2014. Seeing it as an alarming concern, she offered her services. She would join a group of volunteers and monitor the neighborhood if there were suspicious activities related to OSEC.
However, there wasn’t a formal system in place that made the community vulnerable from offenders both foreign and local – until World Vision invited Filotea’s group in an anti-OSEC workshop in 2019. Under the Child Protection Compact (CPC) project, the WV invited community workers to empower them as OSEC advocates. After the workshop, Filotea and her colleagues formed the Community Child Protection Advocates (CCPA) consisting of village peacemakers, health workers, community volunteers and the senior citizen herself as the chairperson.
“The CCPA does the groundwork of monitoring the neighborhood by frequently visiting identified hotspots. We also talk to some parents who are vulnerable to these kind of cyber crimes,” Filotea said.
Since the formation of the CCPA, the group has already rescued three minors who are already sheltered in the local social welfare office. The rate of OSEC cases has also decreased compared to how prevalent it was in 2013-2014. And Filotea and her team is dedicated to maintain a zero OSEC case in the community.
“I have no regrets leaving my former job and offer my service to a higher purpose and that is to rescue women and children,” she claimed. “I feel fulfilled!”
During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, Filotea’s community is under quarantine. As a senior citizen, she is restricted to go out of her house. The CCPA chairperson contacts her members, who are also community COVID-19 frontliners, to continue monitoring the neighborhood for any suspicion of OSEC.
World Vision salutes Filotea and her team for keeping their community safe from exploitation.