Nine children, including some as young as two years old, have been rescued from alleged child exploitation in the Philippines after a tip-off from Australian Federal Police.

The tip-off came after a Victorian man was charged for allegedly paying for live-distance child exploitation in November 2019.

The children, aged between two and 16 years old, were removed from harm last week after the AFP alerted the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).

Philippine National Police launched an operation on February 3, 2021, in Angeles City, north of the capital Manila, that led to the arrest of a 42-year-old woman for her alleged role as the facilitator of online child sexual abuse.

Live-distance child exploitation is defined as where young children are sexually exploited online by a facilitator, usually an adult, in exchange for money from a foreign customer, who pays for the live abuse.

Phillip John Cooper, 61, was arrested on November 7, 2019, after being stopped by Australian Border Force officers at Melbourne Airport on suspicion of child abuse offences.

A child being rescued from harm by Philippines authorities north of Manila on February 3. Picture: AFP
A child being rescued from harm by Philippines authorities north of Manila on February 3. Picture: AFP


ABF officers examined his bags and personal electronic devices before referring the case to the AFP. Officers searched his Barnawartha home on November 8, 2019, where electronic devices were located containing videos of the man allegedly engaging in sexual activity with female Filipino children.

He was charged with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside of Australia and is due to face court again in March 26.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the AFP worked with partners across the globe to protect and remove children from heinous crimes.

"AFP officers who work in child protection go to work every day to help rescue the most vulnerable and bring their perpetrators to justice,'' she said.

A Victorian man has been charged by the AFP for allegedly paying for live-distance child exploitation as authorities rescued nine children in the Philippines. Picture: AFP
A Victorian man has been charged by the AFP for allegedly paying for live-distance child exploitation as authorities rescued nine children in the Philippines. Picture: AFP


"Whether children are in Australia or overseas, our teams never give up because they know that every day we can't identify a child is another day they are being abused."

Philippine National Police chief of the Women and Children's Protection Centre, Brigadier General Alessandro Abella, said the operation highlighted the commitment both countries shared in protecting children, arresting and prosecuting offenders in the Philippines and abroad.

Since the inception of the PICACC in February 2019, 102 operations have resulted in the rescue of 320 victims.

At least 72 suspects and facilitators have been charged, while Australian-based investigations have led to the arrest and charges against 27 suspects and the removal of 86 children from harm.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

Originally published as Cops save 2yo from sexual predators


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