An elderly American priest has been arrested in the Philippines for allegedly molesting boys as young as seven over a period of 30 years,  after one of his apparent victims complained to authorities in the US.

Kenneth Hendricks, 77, was arrested inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary at Naval in Biliran province, south of Manila, by Filipino immigration officers and agents from the US Department of Homeland Security, The Straits Times reported.

An immigration bureau report said an arrest warrant had been filed in the US state of Ohio against Hendricks by one of his alleged victims for “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places”, which is a felony in the US.

The provincial police director, Senior Superintendent Julius Coyme,  said at least seven complaints of “indecent sexual conduct involving minors” had been filed, including one that involved a 12-year-old.

He said investigations had revealed that the priest might have sexually abused up to 50 young boys, most of whom served as his altar assistants at the church. One alleged victim was said to be only seven.

“(Homeland Security) came to us last week and informed us that they are still gathering information as there could be more victims,” he said.

Hendricks had been living in Naval for 37 years and has been in the ministry for nearly 40 years.