Australian and Filipino Op Rescues Record Number of Child Sexual Abuse Victims
A joint operation between Australian and Filipino authorities has resulted in a record number of children saved from sexual abuse, Australia’s federal police reported Wednesday.
Intelligence provided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) allowed Philippine National Police officers to search multiple locations where the children were being illegally held. Law enforcement has reported the rescue of no less than 16 children as a result of their intervention.
The raids were lauded for setting a record for the most child victims rescued from sexual abuse.
Investigators were drawn to the case following the examination of a man’s luggage at Sydney Airport as he returned from the Philippines in January earlier this year. A subsequent search of his phone turned up alleged child abuse materials, AFP said.
Australian police shared the intelligence drawn from the arrest with the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC), a collective of Filipino and foreign law agencies tasked with combating the online sexual exploitation of children. Specially trained personnel attached to the centre have rescued hundreds of children victimized by sexual exploitation by scouring the darkest, most vile places on the internet.
The operation culminated in multiple search warrants in the Northern Philippines last week; police raids at the locations resulted in the rescue of the 16 children, with the youngest aged no more than 10.
They have been placed into the care of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, AFP said.
Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins, the AFP Senior Officer in Manila, lauded the efforts of the international child protection investigation, but noted how the children’s lives “have been irrecoverably damaged and we know there are too many other children still at risk.”
“It’s a tragedy that this type of abhorrent material ever exists in the first place but sadly it is something our officers come across all too often,” Australian Border Force Superintendent Phillip Anderson said.
Recognizing the harsh realities of the crime, Portia Manalad, Chief of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Centre, noted how international cooperation between law enforcement agencies is vital to saving as many children from sexual exploitation as possible.
To date, PICACC agents have rescued 611 victims and arrested 127 alleged facilitators of child abuse. This includes the rescue of 218 victims outside of the Philippines, including a girl as young as six.