5 suspected online sex traffickers arrested in Biliran

MANILA, Philippines – At least 5 individuals suspected of online sex trafficking in Biliran were arrested Wednesday, October 9, by police from the Women and Children Protection Center-Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) and local police.

The suspects, who were not identified by the police, were between the ages of 22 and 30 and were arrested in one operation across several locations in Biliran. Each of the suspects will be facing charges of sexual abuse and cybercrimes.

Five victims rescued on the first day of operations were between the ages of 14 and 17, according to a press release from the International Justice Mission.

On the second day of operations on Thursday, October 10, 4 more victims below legal age were rescued: a 10-month-old, an 11-month-old, and two 2-year-old children who were possibly victimized by the traffickers. 

Local police were tipped off by the Australian Federal Police and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center. 

All of the 9 rescued children are now in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and receiving trauma-informed interventions.

"The online sexual exploitation of children is a crime that my team at WCPC will continue to stand up against," said Police Captain Lawrence Nino Ibo in his statement. 

In December 2018, Catholic priest Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, was arrested in the same province for allegedly sexually abusing minors. He had been living in the Philippines for 37 years. (READ: U.S. priest accused of sex abuse arrested in Biliran)

 – Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com