MANILA, Philippines, November 19, 2009
(STAR) President Arroyo signed on Tuesday night Republic Act 9775, otherwise known as the Anti-Child Pornography Law, Tarlac Rep. Monica Teodoro, its principal author in the House, announced yesterday.

“The passage of this landmark bill is very timely since we are going to commemorate the 20th year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on Nov. 20,” Teodoro said.

“Now that we already have a stringent law against child pornography, we can efficiently prosecute perpetrators who produce, use and distribute child pornography,” she said.

“We used to be a haven for child pornography proliferators and foreign pedophiles. Now, our country is going to be a safe haven for children,” she added.

Under the law, child pornography is defined as any representation, be it visual, audio or written form or combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or other means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities.

Any person who produces, distributes, publishes or commits other related acts will face stiff penalties. Violators may include Internet service providers and Internet content hosts.

Violators face fines ranging from P50,000 to P5 million and prison terms, including the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

A child who is victimized shall be recognized as a victim of a violent crime and may claim compensation and protection under the law, which also provides mandatory services for the victim, including counseling and legal assistance.

Teodoro said Filipino children as young as seven years had fallen victim to child pornography syndicates operating cyber sex dens.

Modern technology and equipment such as digital cameras and cellular phones have made child pornography easier to commit and more difficult for authorities to stop and for perpetrators to be apprehended and prosecuted, she said.

Teodoro, on her first term in Congress, chairs the House committee on the welfare of children.

She is reportedly not seeking a second term so she could devote her time helping her husband, former Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., in his quest for the presidency. – Jess Diaz

Iran, China, Singapore dignitaries arriving in Manila By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) Updated November 19, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Several foreign dignitaries will be in the country for the next few days.

The Chinese embassy in Manila yesterday announced that Jia Qinglin, head of China’s political consultation body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), is arriving in Manila today.

Jia, who was invited by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, will attend and address the opening ceremony of the 10th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) tomorrow.

The WCEC is a biennial event that provides opportunities for establishing social network among Chinese entrepreneurs.

Jia, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, will meet with President Arroyo, Enrile and leaders of the House of Representatives to exchange views on China-Philippines strategic relations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced that Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo will be in Manila for an official visit from Nov. 19 to 22 upon the invitation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

While in Manila, Yeo will officiate the formal opening of the Singapore embassy at the Bonifacio Global City and speak at the WCEC at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Singapore chairs the 11th WCEC in 2011.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived in Manila yesterday for a two-day official visit upon invitation of the Philippine government.

Mottaki paid a courtesy call on President Arroyo and met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Romulo.

DFA said the meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to strengthen the mechanism for review of bilateral relations and identify new areas for cooperation.

Mottaki was joined by his spouse, Madam Tahereh Mottaki, Iran’s Director General for Women’s International Affairs and Human Rights; members of the Iranian Parliament, and other senior Iranian government officials.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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