An ongoing investigation by Australian authorities into the sexual abuse of children in the Philippines, 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 Monday (4 May 2020) in Caloocan, Luzon.
Three children have been rescued and one woman arrested for her alleged role as the facilitator of online child sexual abuse.
This outcome in the Philippines comes as Australian authorities continue to investigate suspected child abuse offences committed by an Australian citizen.
The Australian investigation was launched following the return of an Australian citizen from the Philippines in late 2019. Information provided by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) helped identify the man leading to an examination of his devices by the Australian Border Force (ABF). This resulted in him being charged with the importation of child abuse material, contrary to 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth).
The ABF referred the matter to the AFP regarding the man’s alleged conduct offshore for further investigation, with financial intelligence provided by AUSTRAC.
Acting AFP Commander Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Paula Hudson said the outcome demonstrates the need for authorities to work quickly and effectively to rescue children from abuse.
“We are extremely heartened that a referral of critical information from Australian authorities has helped Philippine authorities rescue children from harm,” Acting Commander Hudson said.
“International partnerships are critical to our combined efforts to protect children no matter where they live.
“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 and international partners who work to ensure the protection of children around the world.
“We are not distracted by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue our tireless work targeting anyone who seeks to exploit children.”
ABF Commander Investigations, Graeme Grosse, said the arrest and rescues were a powerful reminder of why the ABF works closely with both domestic and international stakeholders.
“Law enforcement agencies around the world are just as dedicated as we are to strongly combatting this type of activity, which has no place in any society. It is only when we work together that the most effective outcomes can be achieved, and the ABF continues to work tirelessly to detect, investigate and refer these types of abhorrent cases,” Commander Grosse said.
AUSTRAC National Manager Bradley Brown said financial intelligence helped to narrow in on this individual and continues to play a key role in our work to combat child sexual exploitation.
“We are committed to working with our partner agencies and the private sector to target and disrupt this offending, and we will continue to generate financial intelligence on Australians who are involved in this abuse.”
Acting Commander Hudson said the outcome shows that efforts to combat child sex abuse in the Philippines are having an immeasurable impact on the lives of young people in the region.
“The establishment of the PICACC in Manila in early 2019 has seen strong collaboration between domestic and foreign law enforcement partners, non-Government, public and private sectors.
“We have come together through the shared belief that no child should have to experience these abhorrent crimes.”