MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police said Monday they have detained a vacationing Italian diplomat and filed complaints of human trafficking and child abuse after he was allegedly found in the company of three underage boys at a resort.
The Italian foreign ministry identified the diplomat as Daniele Bosio, Italy's ambassador to Turkmenistan, and said he had been suspended from his duties after Philippines authorities upheld his detention. It gave no further comment.
Philippines police Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula said members of the child rights group Bahay Tuluyan who were on an outing in the same resort in Laguna province, south of Manila, became suspicious and alerted authorities.
Catherine Scerri of Bahay Tuluyan said she and her colleagues saw the foreigner at the resort with three children aged 9 to 12 who were clearly not related to him.
Sapitula, the provincial police chief, said an investigation showed that the diplomat took the children to his accommodation in Manila and then to the resort.
According to the police statement, the diplomat told investigators during questioning that the boys "were street children that I had brought from Manila" and that they had informed their parents about the trip.
The statement said that the boys told police that the diplomat brought them to his house where he "personally bathed and scrubbed their naked bodies and afterwards gave them money and food."
The complaints were filed before a prosecutor, who will determine if there is enough evidence for formal charges to be brought against the diplomat.
The Philippine anti-trafficking law sets a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of at least 2 million pesos ($44,500) if the victim is a child.
Child abuse carries a prison term of up to 40 years.
A police press statement said the Italian ambassador to the Philippines, Massimo Roscigno, visited the police station in Binan, Laguna, to ensure that legal assistance was provided to the diplomat.
Frances D'Emilio contributed to this report from Rome.