() — Sixteen children allegedly abused in the Philippines have been rescued after Australian Police found sexually explicit material on the phone of a man arrested in Sydney.
The children were found last month when the Philippine National Police (PNP) executed multiple arrest warrants at four locations in the metropolitan Manila area and a province in the northern Philippines, according to a joint statement released Wednesday by the Federal Police. Australian.
The investigation began in January when the Australian Border Force (ABF) intercepted a 56-year-old Queensland man as he was returning to Sydney from the Philippines, according to the statement.
After searching his phone, the ABF found child abuse material and messages detailing his intention to pay a facilitator who would allow him to sexually abuse children in the Philippines.
The man was charged with three offenses, including grooming and possession of child abuse material, which carry a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
However, the suspect failed to appear at the hearing scheduled for May 30 and an arrest warrant was issued for him.
“This case highlights how vital it is for law enforcement to share intelligence and resources globally, because predators are not confined by borders,” said AFP’s senior officer in Manila, Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins.
“However, the lives of these children were irreparably damaged and we know that many other children are still at risk,” he added.
The children were placed in the care of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development and investigators are still trying to find other alleged victims.
Police Colonel Portia Manalad, head of the Philippine National Police Center for the Protection of Women and Children, said the PNP could not tackle this crime alone.
“We must collaborate with our international partners, such as the AFP, to arrest the criminals and rescue the child victims,” he said.
As of June 29, 611 victims have been rescued from child abuse and 127 enablers have been arrested since the Internet Crime Against Children Center (PICACC) was established in 2019 in the Philippines, a joint effort between the Philippines, Australia, the United Kingdom and Netherlands.