CAMARINES SUR, THE PHILIPPINES – On 7 May 2021, police rescued 14 children, including a 3-month old infant, from online sexual exploitation. The operation was the result of a referral from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which had arrested a 69-year-old Australian offender in March this year.
Thanks to international collaboration through the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC), the AFP shared information with Philippine law enforcement to secure the rescue of the children and the arrest of four suspects. The operation was a joint effort between national, provincial and municipal police and neighbourhood officials in the municipality of Bombon, located in the south of Luzon in the Philippines.
The operation took place around 10 a.m. during the execution of four search warrants. Among the evidence seized during the operation were:
- digital devices containing several child sexual exploitation materials;
- a sex toy; and,
- several money transfer receipts showing foreigners as senders.
Police arrested three female suspects and one male suspect who is the brother of one of the female suspects.
One of the female suspects had previously sent child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM) to an Australian sex offender in exchange for money. Seven of those rescued are her children. Four are children of another female suspect, while the other three victims are stepchildren of the brother (not a suspect) of two of the suspects. The children’s ages range between 3 months and 17 years.
“Our pursuit to rescue and protect children from online sexual exploitation will not stop until we have arrested the last trafficker and abuser doing this vile crime,” said PBGEN Alessandro Abella, Chief of WCPC.
“The Philippine National Police, through the Women and Children Protection Center, is committed to collaborating with international law enforcement agencies to bring this borderless crime to an end,” he affirmed.
The suspects will be charged under Philippine anti-trafficking law. The 14 children are now safe in the care of the local social welfare office.
Further details pending.
A model of enhanced global law enforcement response against online sexual exploitation of children, PICACC is composed of PNP-WCPC, National Bureau of Investigation – Anti-Human Trafficking Division, Australian Federal Police, UK National Crime Agency, and the National Police of the Netherlands; in partnership with International Justice Mission.
The names of the suspects are withheld to protect the identity of the victims.
The Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Luxembourg Guidelines, prescribes the use of the term “child sexual abuse material” or “child sexual exploitation material” instead of “child pornography”, except when referencing the name of statute. Sexualised material that depicts or otherwise represents children is a representation, and a form, of child sexual abuse and should not be described as “pornography.”
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