Three children rescued in the Philippines after tip off from Australian authorities

minors being removed at the crime scene

An ongoing investigation by Australian authorities into the sexual abuse of children, including suspected live distance abuse committed by an Australian citizen, has resulted in the rescue of three children and the arrest of one woman in the Philippines.

Following a referral from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted operational activity on Wednesday (14 May 2020) in north Manila.

As a result, three children, aged six, eleven and fourteen, have been rescued and a 34-year-old woman in the Philippines has been arrested for her alleged role as the facilitator of online child sexual abuse.

This outcome in the Philippines comes after officers from the AFP Eastern Command’s Child Protection Operations charged a 63-year-old Sydney man in January 2020 with producing child abuse material.

The initial Australian investigation was launched following the return of an Australian citizen from the Philippines in late 2019.

A report to the AFP’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation’s Child Protection Triage Unit (ACCCE CPTU) indicated that since 2010, the man had regularly travelled to Manila in the Philippines, where it was suspected he may have engaged in criminal offences while overseas.

An investigation conducted by the AFP’s Child Protection operations team in Sydney used financial intelligence from AUSTRAC to discover the man had made 395 transactions totaling $113,000 to recipients in the Philippines over a number of years.

More details about the arrest of the man in January 2020 can be found here.

Acting AFP Commander Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Paula Hudson said the outcome demonstrates the dedication of the case officers who conducted the investigation.

“Our officers don’t stop investigating when there is a chance of rescuing a child from harm and this referral to Philippine authorities is a great example of their dedication to protecting children,” Acting Commander Hudson said.

“This arrest in the Philippines demonstrates the close working relationships between the AFP, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation as well as all our domestic partners who work to ensure the protection of children around the world.”

As at 5 May 2020 and since inception of the PICACC in February 2019, the PICACC has undertaken a total of 50 operations which has resulted in the rescue of 156 victims, 46 suspects/ facilitators charged and three offenders convicted.

Further details on the PICACC are available here.

The ACCCE is committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and is at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised child abuse.

The Centre brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into child sexual abuse and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.

EDITORS NOTE: Media are reminded of their obligations under s15A of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW) and s105 of the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW).

Note to media:

USE OF TERM 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL, NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'

Use of the phrase "child pornography" benefits child sex abusers because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
  • conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused. This is not "pornography".

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