UPDATED 3:42 PM MLA: MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police officials said Monday they have detained and filed a complaint of child trafficking against a vacationing Italian diplomat found at a resort south of Manila allegedly in the company of three street boys aged 9 to 12.
Senior Supt. Romulo Sapitula said the diplomat was based in Turkmenistan. Members of the child rights group Bahay Tuluyan who were on an outing in the same resort in Laguna province became suspicious and alerted authorities, he said.
Catherine Scerri of Bahay Tuluyan said she and her colleagues became suspicious when they saw a foreigner at the resort with three young children clearly not related to him.
Sapitula, the provincial police chief, said their investigation showed that prior to bringing the children to Laguna, the diplomat took them to his accommodation in Manila.
The complaint was filed before a prosecutor, who will determine if a formal charge will be laid.
The Italian Embassy in Manila was aware that Philippine police have taken the man into custody on a child-trafficking complaint, a Filipino embassy staffer said, but it did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
Child trafficking is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of at least one million pesos ($22,252).