MALAYBALAY - An 18-month-old girl was among the children allegedly sexually abused by an Australian man arrested in Malaybalay last month, government investigators said Monday.
Law enforcement officials are now hunting people overseas who apparently paid 51-year-old Gerard Peter Scully for the footage of the children being sexually abused, Manila's National Bureau of Investigation said.
"It was a video shown on the Internet, (of him) allegedly torturing the child physically and sexually," NBI regional chief Angelito Magno said, referring to the young girl.
Magno, whose unit originally arrested Scully on February 20 in the southern Philippines, said the infant's parents apparently knew about the abuse, adding that the government's Social Welfare Office was now caring for the child and her parents.
He declined to give more information on the infant.
Scully fled from Australia to the Philippines to escape fraud charges in 2011. The NBI has said he set up his cybersex operations in the impoverished southern Philippines, using offers of food and money to lure children into having sex with him and then selling the footage on the Internet.
He faces human trafficking charges and could get life in jail if convicted.
He is also being investigated for the suspected murder of a girl of about 12 years, whom he allegedly strangled and then buried under his rented house, said Basset Sarit, the executive officer of the NBI's anti-human trafficking unit.
Two other girls that he allegedly abused last year have said that they were forced by Scully to dig their own graves but escaped before they could be killed, Sarit said.
He added that investigators were now looking into the foreigners who paid Scully for the footage of girls being abused.
"We recovered receipts of $5,000 and $1,000. He changed houses a lot and we could only get documentary evidence from his last place of residence," he told AFP.
Sarit said they had traced clients from the United States, South America and Europe, and added that Australian police as well as Interpol were assisting in the investigation.
Law enforcement officials have warned that the Philippines has become a key hub of a billion-dollar global child cybersex industry, with operators aided by widespread poverty and legal loopholes that allow them to remain anonymous.
Most people who pay to view the activity are from the United States and Europe, with potentially thousands of children being abused, often with the connivance of their parents, authorities have said.