Nine children rescued in Philippines after Australian man charged

A Victorian man charged by the Australian Federal Police for allegedly paying for live-distance child exploitation has led to the rescue of nine children and the arrest of a woman by Philippine authorities.

The children, aged between two and 16 years, were removed from harm after the AFP alerted the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).

Philippine National Police launched operation activity on Wednesday, 3 February, 2021, in Angeles City, north of Manila. A woman, 42, was arrested in the Philippines for her alleged role as the facilitator of online child sexual abuse.

The AFP charged a 61-year-old Melbourne man in November 2019 with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside of Australia. Ongoing investigations by the AFP facilitated the referral to PICACC.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the AFP worked with partners across the globe to protect and remove children from heinous crimes.

“AFP officers who work in child protection go to work every day to help rescue the most vulnerable and bring their perpetrators to justice,” Detective Superintendent Crossling said.

“It is heart-breaking work for officers. But for the AFP, it is about the children we save. Whether children are in Australia or overseas, our teams never give up because they know that every day we can’t identify a child is another day they are being abused.”

The AFP Senior Liaison Officer in the Philippines, Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins said the AFP worked hand-in-glove with partner agencies to tackle the global scourge of child exploitation.

“This arrest in the Philippines demonstrates the effectiveness of the PICACC, of which the AFP via our International Command in the Philippines is a partner agency. It also highlights the close working relationships between the AFP and the Philippine Authorities as well as all our domestic partners who work to ensure the protection of children around the world.”

Philippine National Police Chief of the Women and Children’s Protection Centre, Brigadier General Alessandro Abella, said: “this investigation emanated from intelligence received by the Australian Federal Police. It highlights the cooperation and commitment we share in protecting children and arresting and prosecuting offenders in the Philippines and abroad”.

As of 3 February 2021, and since inception of the PICACC in February 2019, the PICACC has undertaken 102 operations that have resulted in the rescue of 320 victims. Seventy-seven suspects/facilitators have been charged and four offenders have been convicted. Australian-based investigations led to the arrest/charge of 27 suspects and the removal of 86 children from harm.

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