MULTIPLE cases await the 41-year-old German national who was nabbed in Lapu-Lapu City on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, for allegedly sexually abusing children and distributing child sexual exploitation materials on the internet.
Operatives from the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) arrested the suspect (name withheld to protect his son, who is one of the victims) inside his house in Sitio Suba Masulog, Barangay Basak at noon.
Col. Romeo Perigo, chief of the WCPC-VFU, told SunStar Cebu that aside from violating Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the suspect may also face charges for violating RA 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, and RA 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
“Those are the cases we are planning to file depending on the affidavits of our witnesses. As of now, we have rescued six minor victims from Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Talisay City. They will serve as our witnesses against the suspect,” Perigo said.
He said they plan to file these cases on Friday, July 12, before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office. The suspect was temporarily held in the Lapu-Lapu City Jail.
“I believe he must first serve whatever sanction the court decides to give him, depending on his plea, here in the Philippines before he could possibly be deported to his country,” Perigo said.
Authorities found child sex abuse materials stored in the suspect’s electronic devices. His two-year-old son, who is shown in some of the sexually explicit images, is now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Perigo said they were tipped off by the Australian government about the suspect’s illegal activities.
He said the Queensland Police Service found out sometime in 2017 that the suspect had been producing sexually explicit images of Filipino children. They then coordinated with the German police, WCPC and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (Picacc).
The Picacc serves as a hub for domestic Philippine and foreign law enforcement collaborative efforts to combat online sexual exploitation of children (Osec). The Picacc is a joint initiative between the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP supported by the Australian Federal Police, United Kingdom National Crime Agency and the International Justice Mission, a nongovernment organization.
“When we received the information, we conducted surveillance and online engagement. After we confirmed, we applied for a search warrant against him,” Perigo said.
The search warrant was issued by Judge Ramon Daomilas of Cebu City Regional Trial Court 11 on July 8.
The online trafficker’s arrest came two weeks after police rescued two Filipino children, young siblings ages six and seven, who were also the German national’s alleged victims, last June 24 in Talisay City.
All the children are in the care of the DSWD and are receiving trauma-informed interventions.
Perigo said the suspect, believed to be a computer engineer, is also wanted in other countries, prompting the Bureau of Immigration to join the operation.
“He also told us that he was once jailed for a year in Taguig City for nabbing two Austrian children. He then said the two were his kids,” he said.
“Today’s arrest of a German national shows the global nature of the crime of online sexual exploitation of children,” he said.
Recovered from the house were laptops, cameras, internal hard drives and tripods, which have been subjected to forensic examination.
Perigo said the suspect has a Filipina live-in partner and has been living in Lapu-Lapu City since October 2018.
“We have yet to identify if his live-in partner also has participation in his illegal activities,” he said. (WBS)