Three children rescued in Philippines after Australian child sexual abuse investigations

Child sexual abuse investigations by the Australian Federal Police and New South Wales Police Force have led to arrest of two Australian men, as well as the rescue of three children and arrest of two women by Philippine authorities.

The children, aged between six and 17 years, were removed from harm after the AFP referred intelligence into the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).

The joint investigation undertaken by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation led to operational activity on 4 March 2021 in Manila. Two women, both aged 27, were arrested in the Philippines for their alleged role as facilitators of online child sexual abuse.

The Philippine arrests follow the AFP’s Brisbane Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team charging a 66-year-old Jamboree Heights, QLD, man in August 2020 with multiple child sexual abuse offences. Ongoing investigations by the AFP facilitated the referral to PICACC.

On 3rd November 2020, the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) arrested a 40-year-old New South Wales man who was allegedly communicating with the same women to pay for online abuse.

AFP Child Protection Operations Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said the AFP worked with partners across the globe to remove children from harm.

“AFP child protection investigators work every day to help rescue some of the most vulnerable and bring the people who harm them to justice,” Detective Superintendent Hudson said.

“For the AFP, this work is about the children we save. Our officers never give up, no matter whether a child victim is based in Australia or overseas.”

The AFP’s Senior Officer in the Philippines, Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins said this was another significant result for all the agencies involved.

“This latest rescue 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 success of our relationship with Philippine Authorities as well as our domestic partners in Australia who work to protect children around the world.”

New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) Manager, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Goddard said these arrests send a clear message to those who prey on the community’s most vulnerable.

“The NSWPF continues to work hard to protect children and bring offenders to justice and this latest incident shows the collaborative approach we have with our partner agencies, both nationally and internationally, to investigate internet crimes against children,” Detective Chief Inspector Goddard said.

Philippine National Police Chief of the Women and Children Protection Centre, Police Brigadier General Alessandro Abella: “These latest results shows that the Covid 19 pandemic will not stop the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Centre and our partners from bringing perpetrators of crimes against children to justice. We stand committed to protecting and rescuing vulnerable children from the atrocities of these type of crimes.”

National Bureau of Investigation Chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, Attorney Janet Francisco: “The National Bureau of Investigation remains steadfast in our commitment to combatting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Together with our national and international partners, we work collaboratively to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who would commit harm against our children, while working tirelessly to rescue those children from harmful situations.”

As of 21 April 2021, and since inception of the PICACC in February 2019, the PICACC has undertaken 118 operations that have resulted in the rescue of 372 victims. Eighty-four suspects/facilitators have been charged and thirteen offenders have been convicted. Australian Federal Police facilitated referrals from Australian based investigations has led to the arrest/charge of 35 of these suspects and the removal of 135 of these children from harm in the Philippines.

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