Philippines may seek to extradite former US diplomat in child sex abuse case

Philippine justice officials said on Tuesday the government may still attempt to extradite a former US diplomat charged with sexual abuse of minors in the Southeast Asian country, a day after he pleaded guilty in an American court.

Dean Edward Cheves, 63, pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place” between 2020 and 2021, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

He faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison on each count and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20, 2023.

The former first secretary at the US Embassy in Manila has been wanted in the Philippines, which sought his extradition after the Pasay City Regional Trial Court ordered his arrest in August last year, following charges of child abuse and child pornography brought against him by a victim’s mother.

In response to a question from Arab News on whether the Department of Justice is still interested in having him extradited to the Philippines, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said “yes.”

Cheves has been charged with violating the Philippine Child Abuse Law and the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

Menardo Guevarra, solicitor general of the Philippines and former DOJ secretary who had overseen the Cheves case, said the government should pursue his extradition as he “is accountable not only under US laws but more so under the laws of the Philippines where he committed these horrible crimes.”

According to the US Department of Justice, Cheves had communicated online and paid a Philippine minor to produce and send sexually explicit images, and engaged in sexual acts with another underaged victim.

“The child sex abuse material that Cheves produced and received of these minors were found on devices seized from Cheves’ embassy residence in the Philippines,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “Cheves knew the ages of both minors at the time he engaged in the conduct.”