The partner in crime of depraved child abuser Peter Gerard Scully has been arrested after nearly two years on the run.
Liezyl Margallo, aged 23, is alleged to have taken an active role in Scully’s sickening acts of abuse against girls as young as 18 months, which in at least one case ended in murder.
The vile scenes of torture and sexual abuse were broadcast live from Scully’s home in northern Mindanao and watched by perverts across the world on a pay-per-view basis.
Margallo has 16 pending arrest warrants against her name, and is accused of luring vulnerable girls into the clutches of Scully, who is also accused of running a huge property swindle in his native Australia.
The Cebu Daily News has reported that the woman was nonchalantly strolling along the shoreline of Malapascua Island, off the mainland northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan, when agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) swooped on Wednesday.
She has been on the run since Scully was arrested by the NBI in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, in February 2015. He remains in jail awaiting sentencing.
The duo’s horrific crimes came to light after a video was found by Dutch police that showed a one-year-old girl known as “Daisy” being tortured by a masked older girl, later identified as Margallo.
The film clip — details of which are too disgusting to describe — has been described by the NBI as the “worst” they had ever seen.
In all, it is believed at least nine children were victims of the pair, including a 12-year-old girl whose remains were exhumed in Scully’s apartment in Surigao City.
The eight remaining victims, aged from one to 12 years old, were rescued in 2015 and remain in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Cagayan de Oro City. Two further victims were rescued by police in a separate operation.
Janet Francisco, head of the NBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTRAD), announced Margallo’s arrest at a press conference in Cebu City on Wednesday.
“It was too much,” she said. “Children were treated like dolls. They were tortured and exposed to too much pain. Anyone who does that is not normal. I could not help but cry when I saw the video.”
NBI-7 director Patricio Bernales said Margallo will be flown to Cagayan de Oro City to face charges for violating Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009; Republic Act 9610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; and Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
If convicted, she will face life imprisonment and a fine of up to five million pesos.
The manhunt for Scully was sparked after police became aware of the aforementioned video dubbed “The Destruction of Daisy”.
The breakthrough that led to Scully’s arrest came when detectives at Interpol noticed that one of the girls on the video was Visayan-speaking.
NBI-7 assistant director Dominador Cimafranca said: “The girl exclaimed ‘agay’ (ouch) while she was being maltreated. A Filipino member of Interpol noticed the Visayan word and from there, they zeroed in their investigation in the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao area.”
Mrs Francisco, who led the rescue of the children, said Margallo was arrested along with Scully in 2015, and admitted her role in making the videos. However, at that time, the NBI didn’t have a warrant against her so they let her go. By the time charges were filed, she was already on the run.
Eventually, with the help of the Australian Federal Police, she was spotted at a resort on Malapascua Island in the company of two British men.
She first identified herself as Shannon Carpio before admitting her true identity in the face of overwhelming evidence.
The two British nationals have not been accused of any wrongdoing and have been released.
It is believed Margallo had been supporting herself by working as a sex escort to foreigners. Mrs Fransisco said: “She became like a tourist guide who would have sex with [her clients] in exchange for money.”
Mrs Francisco said the 12-year-old girl who died in August 2012 was entrusted by her guardian to Margallo, who promised to take good care of her and to send her to school.
“They were promised a good future. But the girl eventually became a slave, treated like a dog, and videotaped while being tortured,” Mrs Fransisco said, adding further details too upsetting to repeat.
The girl, identified by the NBI as “Cindy”, died due to strangulation and internal bleeding.
Her remains were found covered with cement at a house formerly rented by Scully.
The 53-year-old Scully was already under investigation in Australian for defrauding more than $2.68 million from 20 investors in a property investment scam.
Scully, a father of two, had left Melbourne and fled to Manila in 2011 where he established his sick video business, charging a network of perverts in countries including the UK, Germany and Brazil $10,000 per broadcast.
Scully was interviewed in prison by Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes, and said he was not afraid of getting a life sentence. “If I get sentenced, I get sentenced,” he said. “That is something out of my control… There is nothing I can do about it, so why worry about it?”
Mrs Francisco said the Philippines had become a hotspot for so-called “cyberpornography” and human trafficking. “These have become a cottage industry in our country. It is a booming business actually. In fact, there are parents who expose their own children to cyberporn. This is so alarming.
“These kinds of business are thriving because many people are poor. They want to earn easy money, and it is difficult to catch them because these activities are done within the confines of the homes.”
However, she vowed that despite these difficulties, she would not cease her campaign to eradicate the vile trade. “We want to educate everyone that exploiting people, including your own children, is definitely wrong. Please help us in our campaign to end this kind of business that has destroyed our country,” she said.