Australian held in Philippines for child abuse

An Australian resident of Hong Kong has been arrested for sexually abusing children in the Philippines, police said Tuesday.

The man in his forties was detained on the central island of Cebu last week while with five young boys, said Senior Inspector Sheryl Bautista.

"We checked the cellphone we seized at the arrests. It turned out he had pictures and videos of the children," said Bautista, head of the arresting team.

The Australian said he was a resident of Hong Kong where he had a job training schoolteachers, but Bautista said they did not know if this was true.

The boys, aged nine to 13, said the man was a frequent visitor, according to Bautista.

"He had picked up many of them, coming back and forth to the Philippines. Some of the minors said they had been with him many times," she recounted.

A Filipino taxi driver who had assisted the Australian in picking up the children was also arrested, she added.

Police plan to charge the Australian with child abuse and trafficking in children. If found guilty, he could face life in prison, Bautista said.

The children were placed in the care of the social welfare department.

The government and aid groups estimate that tens of thousands of children end up as prostitutes in the Philippines due to poverty and poor implementation of laws.

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