Philippine National Police Headquarters. Photo: Google Maps

Eight British men are under investigation by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency for watching live online broadcasts of children being sexually abused in the Philippines.

Colonel Villamor Tuliao, a senior officer in the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the growing number of Westerners watching sexually abused Filipino children was a serious problem, the Daily Mail reported.

The National Crime Agency has referred the suspects to Philippine authorities. According to the PNP, at least 27 children were rescued from online child sexual abuse this year. Last year, 70 children were rescued, while 48 children were rescued in 2016.

“Based on the rescue operations we have conducted, the victims are usually given toys, bags and mobile phones for their services,” Tuliao said. He added that most of the facilitators of the abuse were the children’s close relatives who were offered money to sexual exploit the children online.

“It is a very serious problem in the Philippines now. We need the help of internet companies in dealing with crimes against children – for them to raise a red flag about child abuse and explicit materials on the internet,” he said.

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