Nine children have been rescued in the Philippines after an Australian man was charged with allegedly paying for child exploitation material

A child wearing a head covering is led away by police on dirt road.

Nine children have been rescued in the Philippines after an Australian man was charged with allegedly paying for child exploitation material.

Key points:

  • A Victorian man was arrested at Melbourne airport in November 2019
  • Information was passed on to Philippines authorities, who made the rescue on February 3
  • A woman was arrested for facilitating online child sexual abuse

A statement by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the children, aged between two and 16, were removed in an operation by Philippine National Police on February 3 in Angeles City, north of Manila.

A 42-year-old woman was arrested for her alleged role in facilitating online child sexual abuse.

The rescue came after Victorian man Phillip John Cooper, 61, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in November 2019 charged with procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside of Australia.

He had been stopped at Melbourne Airport a day earlier, and the AFP alleges a search of his mobile phone found he had held sexualized conversations, including asking for ages of girls.

The AFP said a search of his house in Barnawartha, near the Victorian-New South Wales border, found videos of him allegedly engaging in sexual activity with female Filipino children.

His matter remains before the courts.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said AFP officers “who work in child protection go to work every day to help rescue the most vulnerable and bring their perpetrators to justice”.

“It is heart-breaking work for officers. But for the AFP, it is about the children we save,” she said.

“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.”

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