How Usapang Diskarte Empowered a Network of Filipino Sexual Predators
More than 250,000 subscribers and roughly 1,000 videos later, the Usapang Diskarte YouTube channel has finally been taken down. So has its Facebook page. It only took getting called out by Senator Risa Hontiveros and the online court of public opinion to do so.
For years, the channel was known around Filipino social media circles as one of those how-to channels—the ones where supposed "alpha males" indulge in their alpha-hood or whatever toxic male things they do and give each other advice on how to get laid. It was just a guy thing, they said.
Usapang Diskarte became a haven for predators to celebrate each other's exploits, as if they weren't discussing minors. With playlists called “1ST MEET IYOT AN AGAD,” “Ungol," or “Keypyas,” its content was malicious and downright disturbing. Among some infamous video titles included "PAANO MAKAIYOT NG BATA," "Paano Mapapayag Ang Batang Babae Na May Gawin Kayo," and "Mga Pagkain Na Malakas Magpalibog Sa Mga Batang Babae."
The people behind the channel were unashamed of their goals and had even explained their own personal "situationships" in the comments section to seek counsel. In one instance, a YouTube user who went by the name of Byan Raymundo claimed that he was in a “secret relationship” for eight months with a 12-year-old girl. Another comment, this time, by user Renz Duclayan Vlogs, had also asked for tips on seducing five-year-old to eight-year-old children.
The initial reaction of most people to the channel would be shock and disbelief. How the hell can this exist? But it did and, unfortunately, Usapang Diskarte just gave the dark side of the internet a very public platform. The fact that the videos had thousands of views and hundreds of comments says a lot about how we treat cases of grooming and child sexual abuse in the Philippines.
Our country, after all, is considered a global epicenter for such abuse, most of the time in the hands of foreigners. In a study on online child sexual exploitation in the the country, one out of five Filipino children who use the internet between the ages of 12 and 17 have been subjected to online sexual abuse in 2020.
Facebook and Facebook Messenger were some of the most common platforms for abuse. TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram were also mentioned in the study. According to some reports, children had even sold photos for P150 a pop.
These horrifying photos tell us what we already knew: that an Anti-Online Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of Children law is absolutely and urgently needed.— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) July 14, 2022
I call on the executive to sign the Anti-OSAEC law now. Our children need the full power & protection of this measure. pic.twitter.com/nnZ8rZEcQP
Abuse isn't exactly reported here, too. While children are being blackmailed or coerced into atrocious acts, they don't know where to turn to. We can't help but think that it's partly because of our local culture. Oftentimes, children simply keep mum to keep the peace. In other circumstances, the children have other things to deal with, such as horrid living conditions and survival.
But then there's the prevalence of grooming, too. Grooming is defined as “the act of training, preparing, or conditioning someone for a long period of time.” Pedophiles and ephebophiles target impressionable minors by first establishing a rapport with them, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity. Sending gifts, seemingly harmless texts, and the like are common manipulation tactics that these predators deploy. They entice victims by appealing to certain pyschosocial and economic needs.
In the WeProtect Global Alliance 2021 report, The Economist Impact surveyed 5,000 young adults across 54 countries and found out that 34 percent of respondents said that they had been asked to do sexually explicit acts online. Twenty-nine percent of respondents had also been sent sexually explicit content.
Filipinos should care about the sorry state of our child protection laws and the rampant sexual abuse our kids suffer from. It was only this year that former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the bill that raised the age of consent and the age for statutory rape from 12 years old to 16 years old in the country. At the very least, Senate Bill No. 2068 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) bill was filed in the 18th Congress. This should add much-needed protection for minors.
The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group also claimed that it had been surveilling the activities of Usapang Diskarte since March. Still, even though the channel is gone, there exists other platforms and forums out there who give out their own version of "how-to-get-laid" lessons. Most of the time, they go unchecked. A legion of sympathizers will always come to support them, too. It's just all-around deplorable behavior, really.
Groomers, we have come to learn, can be anyone. In the case of the people in the Usapang Diskarte community space, they can be our brother or uncle, neighbor or co-worker. Who knows how many "secret relationships" the channel helped foster? There is a whole network of predators out there whose views have been further informed by the channel's and its followers.
It also doesn't help that we have Filipino men commenting online downplaying the uproar, saying that this is another attack by the evil "wokes" or that Hontiveros has her own "agenda." These are just tasteless. Victim-blaming, of course, is deeply rooted in Philippine culture, as well. But it's hard to have an argument for this one.
What happens now to the 250,000 fans of the channel and its pages? Well, chances are, they will probably lurk elsewhere, hiding behind fake accounts, messaging young children with the tips they got. Other forums and channels will no doubt arise to replace Usapang Diskarte.
The fight against child sexual exploitation should be a nationwide effort, from the state down to the ordinary home. This means a collective vigilance. So the next time we see an adult having a questionable relationship with a child, we need to intervene. Ultimately, the people behind Usapang Diskarte are criminals. For its fans and defenders, as well as for those who choose to stay silent, they're all just as culpable.