Category Archives: People

[People] The Scourge of Covid-19 and Malaria Rages On | Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Covid19ph

The Scourge of Covid-19 and Malaria Rages On
Fr. Shay Cullen

The horrific scenes in Brazil and India show people dying in the streets from the lack of preparation by government for the protection of its citizens against the surge of Covid-19. They failed to impose control of mass gatherings and election rallies and now they reap the tragic results- a massive wave of infections. In India, 314,835 infections were recorded and as many 3,000 died in one day and every day. It still rages on.

The government has failed to provide oxygen to the hospitals and see that there are enough beds in response to a catastrophic calamity. Television shows people dying at the gates of the hospitals. The hospital wards are crowded with relatives, for sure they will be infected and many will soon follow their relatives to the grave. There is no way to save them with the lack of medicines and oxygen. The vicious virus attacks the lungs and racks the body with fever. It is a terrible disease and hundreds of thousands are dying around the world.

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[People] Saving the Forests is Saving the Planet | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Environment

Saving the Forests is Saving the Planet
Shay Cullen
21 March 2021

The International Day of Forest is today, 21 March. Forests are of vital importance to the well-being of all creatures, the natural world, and especially humankind. They absorb most of the damaging CO2 that causes climate change. Their protection and restoration should be of the highest national priority of each nation to hold back global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees celsius and avert the catastrophe that is to come.

Forests are vital for retaining and releasing water the whole year-round, preventing draught and providing clean water and protection from landslides and soil erosion in the typhoon season. In the Philippines and other nations that have suffered deforestation, there is severe low crop yield that causes food insecurity due to massive rains and typhoons because of soil erosion. In some provinces, 50 percent of the rich topsoil has been washed away and more to come. There are no more forests to hold the water back. The Philippines, once self-sufficient in rice, now imports most of its rice.

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[People] Global Warming Can Be Stopped | Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Environment

Global Warming Can be Stopped
Fr. Shay Cullen

One of the most famous and committed protectors of the natural world and defender of the planet is David Attenborough. He gave a speech online to the UN members of the Security Council on climate change and security this week. Climate change is disrupting our world and the temperature has risen one-degree centigrade and it will not go back. There is no going back, he said. We have reached a point of no return and that is a security risk to the planet and to every nation. We can stop it rising higher.

One of the grave security risks is the increase in number and severity of natural disasters that is turning millions of people into victims of draughts where rice fields are turning to deserts in one part of the world and becoming permanent lakes in others. The devastating fires around the world have driven thousands from their homes and killed millions of animals. Wildlife is fast disappearing. Many people are so complacent to see birds flying and fish swimming in the sea cannot and cannot imagine or accept that they may soon be no more as many are already diminished or extinct because of us and our fossil fuel-based lifestyles.

In Surigao, floods have driven thousands of people into shelters as their homes are flooded and crops destroyed and livestock killed by the latest typhoon. Millions of poor people are the worst affected and will live in greater poverty than before. Climate refugees are becoming the greatest threat as millions are displaced by natural disasters and abandon their shacks and shanties and the hunger and poverty and head for the rich nations and besiege their borders begging for help and work.Their numbers will continue to increase.

Besides, the growing increase in CO2 from coal plants and vehicles is making the earth warmer. As I have written before, vast tracts of marsh lands in Siberia and near the Arctic Circle are melting, releasing billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere. This, too, is adding to the blanket of gas that is insulating the planet and preventing the heat from escaping while the sun beats down roasting everything on the planet. Winters are already harsher, colder and more prolonged as happened this year again in the northern hemisphere reaching as far south as Texas in the USA, cutting the electric power grid and people almost dying of cold as one child did. This is unheard of in many years. Nothing like this increase in global temperatures has happened for millions of years and when it did, the earth was uninhabitable, even animals could hardly survive, and thousands of species became extinct. It’s happening again all because of us humans, the species with the big intelligent brains who should know better. We do know better, but good choice does not always follow the facts.

Many politicians and corporate bosses especially in the developed economies refuse to face and admit the truth of global warming and dangerous climate change simply because of corporate greed, the love of comfort and money and to retain political power and economic growth. David Attenborough tried to convince the Security Council of this fact.

The near absence of political will and the blindness of denial are allowing the planet’s temperature to creep upward to the maximum allowable temperature increase of 2 degrees before even greater disaster will occur. Even this one degree increases, the experts say, is already a calamity. An increase of .75 degrees is causing the death of the coral reefs- the life-giving food of thousands of species of fish upon which millions of families depend for a daily meal.

The oceans are under threat, too, not only from over-fishing but they are absorbing all the CO2 they can and they are becoming more acidic. Global fish stocks are threatened as a result. There will be more massive crop failures, drought, floods, rising sea levels, greater forest destruction and massive population migrations. The prices of food commodities are increasing at an alarming rate and as production drops, famine could once again kill millions in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is not only war but war against nature that is endangering the world population.

It sounds all gloom and doom, it is, and we have to take serious action to stop it. The deadline is a tipping point of global temperature that when reached could make the warming irreversible and perhaps it already is. If we humans continue destructive behaviors, like destroying forests and burning fossil fuels in coal plants to make electricity and populating the world with billions of methane-making cattle, we are making big trouble for ourselves and the rest of humankind. The forests are threatened not only by greedy humans in Hungary, the Amazon and South East Asia, by logging and growing soya and raising cattle for beef but by disease due to the warmer temperature where tree-destroying diseases and insects thrive. The billion cattle in the world are releasing methane, a greenhouse gas and dangerous to the planet.

Committed environmentalist march, demonstrate and petition and electing “green” politicians to push governments and corporate tycoons to stop building more coal plants and turn to non-destructive and renewable ways of making electricity such as geothermal, solar and wind power. We can all be environmentalists. I happily joined the Preda Foundation team and the Aeta Indigenous people of Zambales in planting 4000 tree saplings last year and 2000 this year.

We too can change our community to be more climate friendly by protecting our local environment, speaking out against logging, planting trees, recycling, and establishing organic food gardens to feed ourselves and eat less meat. This is the challenge for our future and the future of our families and the next generation. Each of us can find a way to be involved in saving the environment in our community.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] The Holocaust and Freedom from Racism -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Racism

The Holocaust and Freedom from Racism
Shay Cullen
29 January 2021

Every year on 27 January, the most horrific crimes of genocide and mass murder on an industrial scale by the criminal Nazi regime in Germany are remembered. As Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “They who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” These crimes must never be allowed to be repeated although they have been. In a premeditated planned genocide, six million Jews and other minorities and political prisoners were exterminated by individual and mass shootings. Hundreds of thousands were worked to death, killed by starvation, and millions more gassed to death and burnt in the ovens of the infamous concentration and extermination camps that the Nazis built around Europe. This happened during their vicious and brutal conquest of Europe from 1939 to 1945.

I have been to visit the extermination camp at Buchenwald, near the City of Weimar. It was a terrible place of isolation, cruelty and mass murder. In the countryside, it was bitterly cold and forbidding. I saw a massive prison camp surrounded by an electrified fence. There was no escape for the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, prisoners of war, Jewish people, Roma people, mixed race people and Afro-Germans. Anyone who disagreed with the Nazi regime was sent to the death camps where the SS death squads executed them.

I walked around the camp. The wooden huts where the prisoners slept were demolished. In a concrete building in the corner of the camp with a tall chimney, I saw the “murder room.” One by one, prisoners stood against the wall to have their height measured and they were shot dead through a hole in the wall. In the basement, there is a room with hooks fixed in the cement ceiling. The innocent prisoners with hands and legs tied and a wire around their necks were hung to slowly die by strangulation. Then, their bodies were placed in a large metal bin that was elevated to the extermination room where six large ovens were continually incinerating the bodies like rubbish. Outside, a greatly enlarged photograph showed a large pile of emaciated bodies of those who died of cruel starvation or firing squad waiting to be delivered to the ovens. Prisoners were forced to do the dirty work.

Memorials of these crimes are held every year by a repentant German people and a new generation all over Germany. Many monuments honouring and remembering the victims have been built so that every German and people everywhere will mourn, be informed, be aware and strengthened in their resolve that such crimes and neo-Nazi hateful ideology and racism in any form are resisted, opposed and countered by peace initiatives. There have been genocides since. In Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, Sudan, Iraq, Cambodia, Myanmar, the list goes on and on. The Jewish people were the main target of hatred and racism by the Nazis. The Nazis arrested and deported everyone to the death camps, to be systematically beaten and gassed to death, six million in all, one million were children

People everywhere have to take a stand against such arbitrary killings and atrocities and never standby in silence and allow it to happen without protest. Such silence is to approve and give consent by inaction and be an accomplice to the crime. To stand against such killings, people need a conscience formed by the Gospel values of human rights and dignity to repudiate and condemn such murders, war crimes and genocide. Here, we condemn as evil and wrong all such killings.

The Nazi regime was built on a political party of national socialism that was racist and politically extreme right wing. They believed themselves to be the white supremacists destined to conquer and rule by violence, if necessary. Adolf Hitler, an Austrian migrant, got German citizenship by astute political manipulation. The mainstream political parties compromised with his racist policies and ideology and paved his way to total power. He became chancellor and his cult-like fanatical followers started a fire in the parliament building, The Bundestag, and he blamed the communists and had them all arrested and thrown out of Parliament by presidential decree. Then, his Nazi party had a majority and he ruled Germany with an iron fist and worked to exterminate the Jews and the communists.

When we see the white supremacists and neo-Nazi extreme right-wing groups in Europe and in the United States marching with Nazi swastika flags and symbols, and a US President supporting them, we should think of Hitler and summon up the courage to stand and oppose by word and action this insidious racist political movement.

Everyone ought to support the freedoms and human dignity and freedom of true, fair democracy or for sure we will lose them. This white supremacist ideology has divided America, threatens parts of Europe as neo-Nazis proliferate once again, spreading hatred and violence against migrants.

Some member states of the EU have right wing populists in power and they pass odious oppressive laws. The police and armed forces of America and Europe are reportedly infiltrated by racist neo-Nazi sympathizers, it seems.

Witness the killing and harassment and abuse of so many immigrants, asylum seekers and people of colour in Europe and the United States. It is a poison affecting the police day by day, a dangerous trend of what has yet to come. The police brutality is inciting protests and demonstrations themselves. Witness the Black Lives Matter movement, demonstrations in Belarus, Lebanon, Tunisia and many more.

Complacency, ignorance, apathy, indifference and tolerance that give consent and support for such racism is participating in the politics of racism, hatred and violence. We should not be surprised that the US Capitol was attacked by these Neo-Nazi groups trying to overthrow the democratic process egged on by President Trump and blaming the progressive groups for its ransacking and desecration. It smacks of Hitler-like dirty tricks in burning the Bundestag.

The reluctance of the Republican members of the US Senate to convict Trump for this blatant attack on the Capitol, the heart of democratic processes, is shocking and disgusting. They are in effect condoning this criminal action by the Trump mob. The Trump followers have to throw off the mesmerisation and worship of the Trump cult and admit they have been duped and lied to and reject all that hatred and racism that Trumpism promotes and encourages. They must resist and break free from the manipulation by social media. Freedom from racism and hatred is the freedom to love our neighbour in peace and with understanding.

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[People] Can President Duterte Make the ISPs Obey the Law? -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Children

Can President Duterte Make the ISPs Obey the Law?
Fr. Shay Cullen
15 January 2021

The massive increase in child sexual abuse videos and images transmitted online over the internet passing through the servers of the Internet service providers (ISPs)- Globe Telecom and PLDT /Smart- has increased from 19,000 in 2019 to 47,937 in 2020 as the result of the lockdown. This is according to the Philippine government Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles speaking for President Rodrigo Duterte.

The child pornography and on-line live streaming of sex acts on Filipino children are continuous horrific heinous crimes as some victims are as young as three years old, among the many thousands sexually abused.

The ISPs and telecommunication corporations have ignored the provision of the 2009 Anti-Child Pornography Law or Republic Act 7995, specifically Section 9 that this writer helped draft and lobbied for strict implementation ever since as published in The Manila Times (The Sunday Times) on many occasions.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet, in a joint meeting, have issued an order to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to slap sanctions on the telecommunications corporations for non-compliance with the law. This writer has called for penalties against the ISPs and recommended one million pesos a day sanction on each ISP until they show proof that they are complying with the law. Presently, they allegedly escape compliance and agree to pay a small fine rather than obey the law and install blocking software to intercept the child pornography and report it to the authorities as the law demands.

These are the most powerful corporations in the Philippines, not only for financial power, but technological power. They can defy even the government of President Duterte as they are doing at present. In an instant, they can paralyze the nation by cutting off Internet connections and crippling the social media upon which millions depend including the government and the entire economy. We will now campaign through non-government organizations in other countries to pressure their telecommunication corporations to reconsider their partnership with Philippine ISPs Globe Telecom and PLDT/Smart that are non-compliant with Section 9 of RA 9775.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, speaking for President Rodrigo Duterte said as quoted in the media, “All ISPs should also install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered, according to the law.” That is a powerful order for them to comply. But will they do it?

Who is top dog in this stand-off, which is the most powerful, President Rodrigo Duterte or the presidents and board members of the telecommunications corporations? Will President Duterte and his cabinet really stand strong and compel the ISPs to comply and install and monitor the blocking software?

The ISPs don’t want to do this as they fear losing hundreds of thousands of customers. What kind of evil business is it that is making money by allowing child abusers here and abroad access child pornography and allow child sexual abuse to live-stream through their servers? The arrogance of power knows no limit and the corporations have this kind of power. The software is easily available. Microsoft is just one corporation that can do it effectively using PhotoDNA and VideoDNA technology.

There is a growing movement to repeal section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of the USA that allows the ISPs NOT to be held responsible for what is posted on their servers and networks. After the attack on the Capitol Building in Washington DC driven by social media, that will now change.

The Philippine ISPs are fighting back against Section 9 of RA 9775. They are trying to get an amendment to RA 9775 through the proposed bill of Rizal Second District Rep. Fidel Nograles to members of congress under the guise of strengthening the RA 9775. He is proposing that the most important provision that requires the ISPs to install the child pornography blocking software BE REPEALED! Nograles has filed last year House Bill (HB) 7633 that seeks to remove Section 9 of RA 9775. That is a wrong and immoral proposal. Section 9 is the strongest provision of the law that aims to protect children from child sexual abusers. We can only presume that the ISPs are behind this bill.

Now that President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet has correctly come out to support the thousands of Filipino children being sexually abused on-line and in child pornography, that obnoxious bill will die the death it deserves. President Duterte should end his war-on-drugs having done all he can and start a new “war” against child pornography and on-line streaming of child sexual abuse, a true and noble endeavour.

His biggest challengers are the telecommunication corporations. Will he and his government have the courage and power to rise up to meet the ISPs’ arrogant stand of non- compliance with section 9 of RA 9775? Will he reform the NTC and appoint child-friendly defenders?

The question is, “Are the present officials following the command of the ISPs or following President Duterte and his cabinet?” There must be reform of the NTC and imposition of fines of a million pesos a day until compliance is done. Also, a strong legal action by the Department of Justice is needed to enforce the law.

Child defenders can campaign and appeal to the global telecommunication corporations that are in partnership with the Philippine telecommunication corporations to require the Philippines ISPs to be more ethical and lawful. These global companies exercise more corporate responsibility and higher ethical standards. They could decide not to renew contracts with the Philippine ISPs.

Hundreds of thousands of children could be protected and saved from the horrific abuse that they suffer to satisfy the lust and sexual desires of paedophiles and the profit of their enablers. The children are the most important of all in society. The role of governments is to protect the citizens and children are the most vulnerable and need strong action to save and protect them.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Discovering Human Dignity -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Children

Discovering Human Dignity
Shay Cullen
9 January 2021

When I see the newly arrived children- all victims of human right violations and sexual abuse- healing and recovering in our Preda Foundation home and striving to be “good,” to be a “better person”, somehow thinking they are “bad,” I and the Preda staff continuously tell them in Filipino that: “You are good children and youth. You have done no wrong, you are innocent victims of bad people who trafficked and abused you.”

It takes a long while for them to understand this. Then, the day arrives when they have had their fifth or sixth session of Emotional Release Therapy. That is where they dramatically confront their abusers in the padded therapy room and fight back at their rapist. They shout his name, cry and scream at him and pound the cushions as if beating him. They are tearing free from the fear and subjugation they endured. In time, they have a new self-understanding. It is an emotional resurrection, the greatest moment of liberation in their lifetime.

They come to realize that they are good persons and have been exploited and abused. Sandra, a 13-year-old, who was repeatedly raped and beaten by her biological father, told how she felt in a group session after her therapy, “I feel free from them, I can live on my own, I see now what is true, I have my dignity”,

The children have broken free from the culture of servility and domination and being downtrodden, and discovered the most important of all. They discovered they have that vital and all-important inherent value of all humanity- human dignity. They have been brainwashed and told all their lives in the slums, living in poverty, without proper education, that they are of little worth, of no value and are better out earning money with their bodies. The younger ones are abused and threatened to tell no one of the sexual abuse. They are told that they did a bad thing and are made to feel guilty and dirty and are wrongly made ashamed of themselves. But from open emotional expression comes freedom and a sense of self-confidence and self-worth and empowerment from knowing that they have dignity and that their dignity has imbued them with inalienable rights.

Human dignity is the greatest value in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It was neglected, ignored and lost for thousands of years. In fact, the word itself was lost until recent history. The idea, concept or belief in human dignity as an ‘inherent or unearned worth of humans’ was not even used in any official or government document, researchers say, until it appeared by chance in the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Then, it was a vague reference to human value. The word only appeared in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified by the United Nations. In the introduction, the word is used twice to justify why humans have inalienable rights. That humans have these rights is an idea, a concept, based on the belief that the human species has an ‘inherent or unearned worth of humans’ above all other creatures and species on the planet.

Until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came in to force in the membership nations that made up the United Nations, many countries without a fair and human rights-based legal system frequently treated people as disposable items by those in power and authority. That authority was absolute, unquestionable, and every person was at its mercy without respect or recourse.

The abominations, atrocities and genocide of World War II gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as humanity realized that without the recognition of the dignity of the human person, and their rights arising from it enforced in law and practice, they didn’t have a chance to survive the rise of fascist authoritarian regimes.

The principles and the rights laid out by the Declaration has been universally accepted and recognized by most nations, on paper at least. Many regimes ignore the rights and dignity of their citizens that must be treated with respect, equality, and human value as enshrined in the Declaration and to be enforced and implemented by Rule of Law.

There is international action, condemnation and protest when the violations of human rights and human dignity are violated. Protests, demonstrations, marches, social media campaigns raise their voice to denounce the violations although much more has to be done.

The imposition of UN sanctions and the deployment of peace-keeping troops and the indictments of the International Criminal Court of Justice are some ways the world community can bring an erring regime to accountability and yet the massacres, child sexual abuse, violations and trampling on human dignity and rights continue unabated. Just as corrupt politicians, criminal gangs, drug cartel leaders and mafia bosses are the killers and tramplers of human rights, so too are the many individuals who abuse children and their enablers and protectors. It is only in our generation in the last twenty years that there has been an outcry and movement to condemn child sexual abuse and human trafficking and enact strict laws to bring abusers to account and to jail.Tolerance, apathy, indifference, secret approval of child abuse was the custom and in many places it still is. In the Philippines, life sentences are frequently handed down to child sex abusers and human traffickers. The strict laws, driven through congress by civil society, are most important in doing justice for the victims of these heinous crimes against children.

Let us not forget where human dignity, respect for human rights of children and women, were first announced and taught. It was by that inspired man, the prophetic Jesus of Nazareth, who constantly championed the rights of children and declared the child as the most important in his planned society of justice, equality, dignity and peace. To accept and respect the child was to accept him. That is a strong endorsement of human dignity of the most vulnerable in society.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Recommendations on meeting the marginalized’s needs in the pandemic -by Ed Tadem

#HumanRights #COVID19ph

Recommendations on meeting the marginalized’s needs in the pandemic
by Eduardo C. Tadem

‘Congress should quickly enact legislation that will impose a wealth tax on the richest Filipino families to raise revenue for COVID-19 measures’

On March 8, 2020, the Philippine government declared a state of public health emergency due to rising cases of COVID-19 infections. The country has been under lockdown and quarantine measures for 9 months now. Nonetheless, infections and fatalities continue to rise. The country has the second highest infection rate in Southeast Asia and 7th in Asia.

The government responded to the health crisis with a “whole of government approach,” where state agencies from the national to the local implement containment measures. An Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) was established led by retired generals and two social amelioration programs (SAP) were initiated to provide immediate assistance to families.

The measures exacted a heavy toll on the Philippine economy, society, and politics. The economy is in recession and is forecasted to contract by 8.5%-9.5% for 2020. Poverty rose, half of the labor force became jobless with 40% relying on part-time employment, and hunger stalked 7.6 million families or 31% of the total. Business establishments went bankrupt. Children of poor families were unable to cope with the remote learning modes of education. Human rights violations increased as well as domestic abuses and harassments of women, particularly among the urban poor.

While COVID-19’s impact cuts across all sectors of society, poor and marginalized communities are more vulnerable and bear the brunt of the crisis. Despite difficulties and limitations, however, some grassroots organizations have taken up important roles in providing relief for their communities, especially in areas where government support was lacking.

The University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, Program on Alternative Development (UP CIDS AltDev), with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), undertook a research study of 5 grassroots communities: an urban poor home-owners association, a health watch program of a relocated urban poor community, a women’s micro social enterprise, an indigenous people’s community, and, a school for indigenous children. The study generated vivid stories from the community level on how the multifaceted challenges of the pandemic are confronted and addressed.

The case studies

Utilizing collective leadership, mass mobilization and self-regulation principles, the Alyansa ng mga Samahan sa Sitio Mendez, Baesa Homeowners Association (ASAMBA), initiated its own measures to safeguard their members from the pandemic – monitoring mobility, retrofitting their iron gates, establishing checkpoints, initiating a community-wide information campaign, and addressing their food needs.

The self-help measures, however, were insufficient to control the spread of the virus coming from surrounding neighborhoods. The prolonged lockdown, loss of jobs, and reduced income generating activities also impacted heavily on the community.

Upon the onset of the pandemic, the Bantay Kalusugang Pangkomunidad (BKP, Community Health Watch) immediately mobilized its members and resources to respond properly – constantly monitoring the health conditions of the community, providing first aid in medical emergencies, undertaking health education particularly COVID-19 information, and soliciting donations.

Outside relief, however, have been insufficient and inconsistent – offering little relief. The government’s social amelioration program has also been marked by non-inclusiveness and selectiveness, slow and stressful processes, and limited LGU capacities.

Igting or Maigting na Samahan ng mga Panlipunang Negosyante ng Towerville Inc., a women’s social enterprise producing garment and apparel products, leaned on its operations as a momentary saving grace due to bulk orders for face masks. Their situation, however, remains precarious as the residents’ daily lives have been greatly disrupted by the lockdowns and quarantine measures while being subjected to an inadequately implemented and late-coming social amelioration program that was also felt to be stressful, arbitrary, and selective. Quarantine measures are also inflexible and cumbersome as well as inattentive to humane considerations.

The Ayta Mag-indi indigenous community in two ancestral domain villages reacted quickly upon hearing of the COVID-19 outbreak and declarations of a lockdown and quarantine. A communications system and checkpoints were set up and donations were solicited. Lockdown rules were enforced, and they learned all they could about the pandemic. They also reached out to lowland communities to dispel damaging rumors about their alleged virus-causing bat-eating habits.

Government assistance, however, came late and benefited less than 10% of the residents. The Aytas had by then initiated their own measures and relied on their ancestral domain lands and resources to provide them with food security and physical safety. They produced their own face masks from local materials and used their traditional indigenous knowledge about medicinal plants and nutritious fruits as disinfectants and to strengthen their immunity.

The lockdown and quarantine rules, however, are alienating and strange to their culture and traditional practices. Instead, they adhere to and uphold principles of solidarity and caring for one another – constantly engaging in community-wide discussions to assess and meeting their needs despite scant resources.

The Lumad community schools for indigenous children in Mindanao were established in their ancestral lands using DepEd-prescribed curricula with the addition of agriculture and health subjects – distilled from their indigenous cultures and knowledge systems. Government counter-insurgency campaigns disrupted the schools – forcing the closure of many of them and the evacuation of about 4,000 Lumad school children.

The “Bakwit School” was thus created; some relocated to Metro Manila. To offset the pandemic-related school disruptions, remedial classes have been taking place. The emotional health and wellbeing of the students have been addressed through psycho-social support and by cultivating skills and hobbies such as traditional bead work, intramural sports, learning musical instruments, drawing, and painting.

Final note

The 5 case studies reveal that some marginalized communities at the ground level, provided they are imbued with the principles of solidarity, social cohesion, organizational fitness, and sharing can undertake the proper minimum measures to address a health crisis. But because their own resources are scarce, and livelihood opportunities and basic public services are wanting, their capacities to cope with a health disaster of the COVID-19 magnitude are limited and insufficient. This is where the state and its agencies need to boldly step in, recognize and appreciate what the grassroots are undertaking on their own, and provide what the communities are in short supply of.

Eduardo C. Tadem, PhD, is convenor, UP CIDS AltDev. This paper was presented at a Webinar Press Briefing and Public Forum on December 9, 2020. The full report submitted to UNESCO will soon be published by UP CIDS. Co-authors are Karl Hapal, Venarica Papa, Ananeza Aban, Honey Tabiola, Jose Monfred Sy, Nathaniel Candelaria, Micah Orlino, and community residents. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.

The article was also published on Rappler.com https://bit.ly/3prKkFO

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[People] Lessons despots never learn -by Walden Bello

Lessons despots never learn
Walden Bello

At the wake of former National Bureau of Investigation “counter-terrorism” chief Raul Manguerra, Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra said that he regretted Manguerra’s demise because “the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law is about to enter a critical phase.”

Skewed priorities

The priorities of the Duterte administration could not be clearer. Even as it has shown tremendous incompetence in managing the country’s recovery from the recent devastating typhoons and in containing the spread of COVID-19, it has displayed great efficiency in its assault on democratic rights. Its skewed priorities show an uncanny resemblance to those of Duterte’s soul brother, Donald Trump, who has all but forgotten his responsibility for containing the rampaging pandemic in the US, focusing and obsessing instead with overturning the results of the recent fair, democratic elections.

It was perhaps not coincidental that 7 people, including a media personality and 6 union organizers, were arrested on December 10, Human Rights Day, since Duterte is known to revel in blatantly expressing his contempt for human rights. The arrests coincided with the killing by government agents of two individuals tagged as “NPA leaders” in Surigao del Sur, and came after earlier fatal shootings and arrests of other suspected “CPP-NPA terrorists.”

Duterte himself has taken a starring role in the current “red-tagging” campaign spearheaded by the military. At a recent press briefing, he engaged in his specialty, making scurrilous remarks, by comparing the left-wing Makabayan Bloc Representative Carlos Zarate to “dog shit.” His headline-grabbing attacks represent a 180 degree turn for a man, who, early in his presidency, appointed people associated with the bloc to cabinet positions. Meanwhile, his minions in Congress have behaved in classic attack dog fashion: Senate President Tito Sotto III, for instance, converted a Senate hearing into a courtroom when he exhibited prosecutorial zeal in an unsuccessful effort to get former Congressman Teddy Casiño to admit that several progressive civil society organizations are “recruiting grounds for the CPP-NPA.”

Not surprisingly, Duterte and Sotto’s rhetorical offensive has been accompanied by an online campaign to get the House of Representatives to throw out Makabayan Bloc representatives as “enemies of the state.” Over the last few years, Malacañang’s online propaganda machine, funded with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money, has become a formidable social media force in a country where 96% of the population have access to Facebook.

The strategic target

The Communist Party and the New People’s Army constitute a remote threat to the government. However, the Duterte administration and the military consider them convenient targets at this point since years and years of anti-communist socialization have demonized them. Duterte and the military’s intention is to make persecution of the CPP-NPA — and figures and organizations that have been indiscriminately and, without proof, identified with them — an object lesson for the broad opposition.

Indeed, at the same time that the military and police were killing and arresting left-wing activists, the civilian arm of the regime brought a second charge of cyber libel against Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler, apparently sadistically timing her arrest so that she would not be able to post bail and be forced to spend the night in jail. (Fortunately, she posted bail shortly before the deadline.) Also around the same period, Youtube videos portraying Manila Mayor “Isko” Moreno as an “NDF consultant” suddenly popped up after he ordered posters “unwelcoming” the CPP-NDF in Manila taken down because he did not want to “sow hatred” in his city.

Dual purpose weapon

The anti-Moreno videos, which also pandered to anti-LGBTQ prejudices by calling the mayor a “barbie,” are interesting since they appear to serve a dual purpose: to frighten Moreno from making statements and moves in support of democratic rights, and to preemptively sink his candidacy for president in the coming 2022 elections and thus remove him as a threat to the president’s anointed successor, his daughter Sara Duterte. There could be no more blatant a display of how Duterte’s authoritarian agenda has meshed with his dynastic aims.

The message from the administration is loud and clear: criticize and oppose us and you will be at the receiving end of our weapons, both violent and “legal.”

Duterte and his gang have made only one fatal miscalculation: people who truly value democratic rights will not buckle down, and, as shown during the Marcos martial law period, their resistance will only grow. The president and the military are engaged in a self-defeating campaign. But then, that’s a lesson despots never learn.

The article was also posted at Rappler.com

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[People] Christmas Newsletter for 2020 -by Fr. Shay Cullen

Christmas Newsletter for 2020
Shay Cullen
19 December 2020

We are sharing with you some of the highlights of the work of Preda Foundation in 2020. We at Preda wish you all a blessed Christmas.

Many children saved
As many as a hundred children have been saved and recovered at the five Preda homes for abused children in 2020, a happy record of healing and empowerment. One of the important highlights during 2020 is that all the children and the staff have thankfully remained free of Covid-19. The protective measure implemented and strictly maintained has made this possible. During the last year, we were able to receive in our homes 41 girls, rescued and saved from sex abusers, human traffickers, and sex slavery. At present, there are 43 children in the homes for girls. The youngest is three years old. They were welcomed, given affirmation, support, and all their personal needs as soon as they arrived. This year, several were reintegrated.

Healing and empowerment
Grace,13 years old, was raped by her biological father. Her mother held her down while she was raped. A horrific heinous crime. She was threatened not to tell. But she bravely told her sister who told a neighbour. It got to the police and she was rescued and referred to the Preda home. She is now safe and has begun to heal and recover from the trauma she experienced. With the other children, Grace joined many activities and volunteered to take Emotional Release Therapy. In the padded therapy room, she cried and shouted out her pain and anger at her abusive parents. The children slowly emerge from their fear and trauma, feeling free and begin to smile for the first time in years.

Many convictions of abusers in 2020
Legal action by the healing and empowered children in Preda homes has been very successful in 2020 despite the lockdown and closure of the courts for several months. In 2020 the children, assisted by Preda, succeeded in winning 16 convictions against their rapists and traffickers. In one major case, a young trafficker and pimp that sold two young girls to a foreign paedophile many times to be abused received two life sentences in Angeles City. The US national was able to escape. The family tried to abduct the child witness from Preda to stop the case but failed. In 2019, the children won 20 convictions and most of the convicted received life sentences so they will not be able to rape any more children. There are many more cases filed by Preda children pending to be resolved by the prosecutors and others are stuck up in the court judicial system waiting for a court hearing, some since 2014. For the first time in our history, the children participated in court hearings online, a more child-friendly way than appearing in the court room with the abuser present.

Saving boys from sub-human jails
The Preda Foundation has two homes for male children in conflict with the law (CICL), one in Zambales and one in Cebu. We rescue the boys from filthy, abusive, and sub-human government detention centers and jails. They are frequently subjected to abuse and even torture by older inmates and abusive guards. In 2020, Preda rescued more than 30 boys and brought them to start a new life in the Preda home for boys in conflict with the law in Zambales. In Cebu, we rescued 15 boys and they are recovering in the Preda New Dawn Home in Liloan.

Commission on Human Rights investigates
In Preda, the children, some as young as 10 years old, told their stories of torture and abuse in government detention jails. Preda reported it to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and with help from international supporters, the Philippine CHR was encouraged to open an investigation. The investigators confirmed and verified the torture and they are taking measures to monitor and prevent more such torture.

Preda contributed to the drafting of a new anti-trafficking ordinance in Olongapo City and conducted the first rescue of 18 trafficked women, among them four minors, at a beach resort in Barangay Barretto. The minors were referred to Preda home for healing.

Preventing changes in law, releasing children
In 2020, Preda Foundation continued and increased its lobbying with other NGOs to stop the changing of the child protection law to reduce the age of criminal liability to 12 years old and succeeded to maintain it at 15 years of age. Then, we campaigned during the pandemic for the release of children from detention canters and as many as 350 children were released by the authorities to their parents. Some children were rescued by Preda social workers. However, many more minors with pending cases remain in jails.

Helping Indigenous Children and Families
On 4 December 2020, the Preda Foundation turned over six laptops and installed a full CCTV system in the St. Francis Learning Centre in Subic town for the use of indigenous Aeta children of Zambales.

The learning centre is an excellent boarding and day school exclusively for indigenous children run by the Franciscan Sisters that gives them a peaceful environment to learn together without the discrimination, bullying, racist remarks, teasing and exclusion that some lowland children inflict on the indigenous children. These drive them to drop out of other schools. The laptops were donated by Paul Gorrie of the The Navigator Network.

Buying Mangos and Sharing Relief Food
Preda has worked with 361 Aeta subsistence farmers in Zambales and provided them with relief food packages consisting of ten kilos of rice and mixed groceries, for four times in 2020. Also, similar food relief packages were distributed to 320 poor families and snacks, candies and toys for their children in Olongapo City area three times in 2020.

Preda bought at higher fair trade prices the internationally organic-certified Pico 21 tons and Indian mangos 35.50 tons from the 77 Aeta families out of 10 communities that have mango crops this year. Preda Fairtrade shared out bonus payments of Php140,000 to the Aeta families. The mangos are made into organically-certified mango puree.

Mango Sapling Distribution.
Also, with the help of the Columban Fathers and Merry Year Foundation in South Korea, we provided the Aeta with 2,000 mango saplings. The Aeta families planted them over the mountains of Zambales to help them reforest and strengthen their claim to their ancestral lands and preventing mining companies and grabbers stealing their lands. In Mindanao, the Preda bought 659 tones of Fair Trade mangos from the members of our small farmers Fair Trade association. The mangos are all for export as dried mangos and conventional purees to World Shops in Germany and the UK.

Preda accreditation and higher standards.
The Preda Foundation is a DSWD-licensed and accredited social welfare and development agency, founded in 1974. It is accredited by local government and it has now reached the highest status and standard of excellence. It has been accredited in 2020 by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) and as a result it has been certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as a “Donee Institution” since 9 November,2020. Philippine donors are exempted from paying the 30 percent donor’s tax. All donations will go to the children, none to administration.

New Partnership with UN agencies
The United Nations Anti-trafficking and Anti-slavery agencies have recognized Preda as a high standard organization for helping trafficked, enslaved and abused children and has granted partial funding for 2020 and 2021.

Awards marked
In November, Preda marked the anniversary of the awarding of the prestigious International Martin Buber Plaque Prize for defending children’s rights. In January 2021 Preda will mark its fourth nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Preda was nominated by the German Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Barbel Koefler. It was endorsed by several members of the German Parliament. That makes the total number of international awards for defending human rights 17. Despite the spread of the Covid-19, lockdowns, and economic downturn the work of the Foundation has succeeded and will continue in the years ahead with your support and help.

View the latest video at https://youtu.be/G0fFNmHSYic Contact Preda Foundation at predainfo@preda.org and http://www.preda.org

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[People] The Empowerment of Women- by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #ViolenceAgainstWomen The Empowerment of Women
Shay Cullen
4 December 2020

The empowerment of women and girls is a most urgent need in today’s world where discrimination, violence and exploitation of women and girls, especially in the developing world, is tearing the heart out of society and family life causing human suffering, exclusion, sickness and death.

Education is the key to empowering women and girls and building equality in society by defeating the superior and dominant attitude of many men. Some wrongly believe they are entitled to treat women as inferior and unworthy of leadership roles in society, business and family.

At every level of social status, rich, middle class, poor, besides formal education, there has to be additional human rights training for boys and girls from the earliest age in human dignity and equality. Women have to be empowered economically by having skilled training and small business opportunities and thus take control over their lives. The economic power of women is essential for changing the inequality and the injustice in societies where women are treated unfairly and regulated to some lower status than males. Money talks and in community-based Grameen-loaning schemes, it is the women who are mostly given the loans. They are considered stronger, more reliable to pay back and wiser in using the loans and more caring of the needs of the children. Having money empowers the women and gives them status and respect in the community and in their families.

The education of boys and men in values to respect girls and women is vital. They must be taught that their own value and dignity as a human being and role in family and society is rooted in the respect for the dignity of females. The powerful machismo male, self-image that looks on females as objects of sexual gratification has to be replaced with one of respect, self-discipline and equal partnership, gender equality and complementary roles.

Without empowered, self-reliant and resilient women there is a greater danger of violence against women and children. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority says that one in every four Filipino women and children age 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by their abusers or husband or partner. Female victims of child sexual abuse left untreated leaves the child traumatized, to grow up in fear of rape and sexual abuse. They can get help and fight back but some may be rendered fearful and submissive to the violence of the abusive male in later life. That is why intervention, protection, healing and empowerment therapy is so important. The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women says it is “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public and private life. Gender-based violence is any violence inflicted on women because of their sex.”

Domestic violence against women is predominantly linked to failed intimate relationships. In many cases, these are shallow and short-lived, most are based on sexual encounters and most are loveless relationships. The woman is treated, not as a loving friend and equal partner and respected mother of the children, but as an object of sexual gratification and a servant housekeeper and cook. The dominated woman is dependent on the man as the provider for her and the children. Many beaten women endure physical abuse because of fear and dependency.

The children in a family are greatly affected by the violent rages of the man against their mother. They, too, can grow up with the notion that violence is a normal part of relationships and be violent themselves. Children can suffer violent sexual assault by the mother’s partner. Sometimes the overpowered mother will allow the man to do it as a way to sexually satisfy him and calm his violent behavior against her. About 80 percent or 32 million children suffer from violence. Seven million of these children are between the ages of 10 to 18 and are sexually abused every year.Twenty percent or 1.4 million are under six years old.

Domestic violence is physical and sometimes psychological. Arguments and verbal abuse break out constantly, leading to a broken home and child abuse. One of many examples is the family of five-year old Vangie and eight-year old Maria (not real names). Their parents had severe disagreements and violence occurred. Their mother left the children with their paternal grandmother and the father. She found another partner. After only a few months, the two small girls were set upon by the biological father and he constantly sexually abused them and raped them both. They were rescued by the Preda Foundation senior staff and social worker and are recovering in the Preda home. He will stand trial. The children will testify.

Human trafficking is another form of violence against women. Young women and minors are “captured” by false promises, lured to fake employment and end up in brothels as sex slaves to powerful men. Many endure physical and psychological violence and “rough sex.” They are victims of “debt bondage” threatened by pimps and traffickers to pay their debts to them or they will be jailed.

That is the case of some of the 18 young girls, four of them minors, that were lured and pressured to join a party where they were to be sexually sold to foreign sex tourists in a hotel in Baloy Beach, Olongapo City, last November 2020. But the plan leaked, and they were all rescued by the National Bureau of Investigation and city social workers and Preda Foundation social workers. The minors are recovering at the Preda home. The adult women are being helped by the government social workers.

There has to be a major change in the culture of male abuse and violence against women and an end to the political tolerance that allows it. The rule of law must prevail, respect for the well-being of every woman and child has to be upheld and we are challenged to stand with them for their rights and dignity.

View New Life at Preda: Resilience and Hope at https://youtu.be/G0fFNmHSYic

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Human Trafficking: A Scourge on Humanity -by Shay Cullen

#HumanRights Human Trafficking: A Scourge on Humanity
Shay Cullen

20 November 2020

Human trafficking and child sexual abuse is still alive and thriving in the Philippines. Online sexual abuse of children is everywhere, it seems, and more has to be done by the telecommunication corporations to stop it. That’s why this heinous crime against small children to satisfy the sexual lust of foreign pedophiles is so abhorrent. Shame on all who allow it to happen with impunity. The Philippines has become the hub for such crimes. The National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) in Olongapo and from Manila has rescued 18 women and children and arrested three human traffickers recently.

In Angeles City this week, two children were rescued and two pimps, both minors, were arrested and turned over to the social workers of Angeles City. A US national, Nicholas Pyant, was arrested by the Philippine National Police in a room with children and should be charged with sexual assault and rape of young children. Pyrant was under surveillance for weeks and is allegedly a known child predator.

In Barrio Baretto, Olongapo City minors are brought to sex hotels to be sold as sex slaves to customers. They are a hub for spreading the coronavirus and human trafficking. The sex industry exists for the sexual gratification of foreign sex tourists and rich locals and earns huge profits for the foreign and local owners of the sex bars and hotels.

The social workers of the Preda Foundation are very active in intelligence gathering and provided vital information and assisted in the recent rescue of the trafficked women and minors in the Barretto night club district. The four minors were referred to the Preda Home for Girls where they are safe from the sex mafia and the families of the human traffickers. At the Preda home, they receive full support, affirmation, counselling, emotional release therapy and education and value formation to prepare them to have a normal, happy life. You can view life in the Preda Homes on Preda Foundation Youtube channel https://youtu.be/G0fFNmHSYic

The Preda home will assist the minors in bringing charges against their abusers and traffickers. Together, we win several convictions of traffickers and child rapists every year. In 2018, we had 18 convictions. In 2019 we helped the children win 20 convictions leading to life sentences. This year 2020, 13 convictions have been won so far. There would be more but due to the pandemic the courts were closed.

Fighting for justice is a very important healing therapy for the children to get justice and to testify in court what the abusers did to them. Most victims/survivors are teenagers. Some are only three years old and six-year-old. They can then have a happy, secure life knowing that their traffickers and rapists are behind bars and can abuse no more children. Some of the teenage children victims of human trafficking also want to be advocates for children’s rights and to speak out as is their right of free expression. They volunteer and sign on to be child rights advocates, a brave and courageous action to take. While we adults do everything to protect their identity, we cannot stop them from exercising their human and civil rights to speak out against human trafficking and advocate children’s rights.The #MeToo movement is a way for women and children to experience freedom from abuse and to fight for justice and many young survivors want to be part of it.

It is adults that allow the sexual exploitation of children in the first place.The horrific child sex abuse business that is a scourge today in the Philippines is due to the former presence of the US Naval Base at Subic Bay, Olongapo City. Thousands of women and children were exploited and abused in hundreds of sex bars catering to the US Navy personnel. It was a wonderland of sex fantasy and abuse. Pedophiles flocked there and the sex mafia systematically and efficiently allowed them to sexually exploit, rape and abuse children. The government allowed and promoted it and the rich made millions of dollars.

In 1983, I discovered a child sex abuse syndicate selling children as young as nine years old to US sailors. I broke that story in the media and instead of being recognized for taking a stand for justice and truth and child protection, I was vilified by local government officials at the time and I was brought to trial at the Bureau of Immigration to be deported. The charge was that my child protection work and writing was bringing Olongapo City and its officials into disrepute. They felt I was blaming them for the child sex industry. They denied all responsibility despite a high profile military court case in Guam that brought a US officer to trial for child sexual abuse in Olongapo City. A sad state of affairs indeed.

That’s how journalists and child rights campaigners fighting for the dignity of the Filipinos were dealt with. However, I won my case, was found innocent and continued my work protecting human rights from my base in the Preda Foundation. When the city officials said they would close the Preda home for children, I said it would be better to close the US Naval Base. An idea was born and I started a “Life after the Bases” campaign to close the US military bases and convert them to civilian economic zones. It was amazing then how many people, in the Catholic Philippines, were hostile and negative to that vision of hope and help.

However, against all opposition, I promoted that idea and it caught on and a coalition of civil society members was formed that eventually persuaded the Philippine Senate to vote against the continuation of the US military bases. The conversion plan I formulated was eventually implemented and Subic Bay is now a thriving industrial area giving jobs with dignity to thousands of Filipinos. Human trafficking never really ceased and years later it began to make a comeback as tourism was promoted. So, today we are still fighting this scourge against humanity and protecting Filipino children.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Speech to the Ministers of the Council of Europe -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #ChildrensMonth Speech to the Ministers of the Council of Europe

This is Children’s Month and I share with you my speech to the Ministers of the Council of Europe made last Thursday 10th November 2020.

Madam Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Dear Chairman, Dear Ministers’ Deputies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for welcoming me to your meeting and the encouragement and inspiration of her Excellency Ambassador Sylvie Bollini in bringing me here virtually, to share some information and concerns about the condition of children today and the danger and violence they suffer from child sex abusers through on-line sex shows and child pornography.

The same dark forces of evil that have trafficked and lured as many as 100,000 or more children into sex slavery and commercial sexual exploitation in the Philippines, as Unicef estimates, the same criminals are also at work in Europe and all over the world. The Internet with all its good benefits has become the international highway for child abuse.

The horrific condition of sexually abused children online in the Philippines makes it the international hub of on-line child sexual abuse, according to both UNICEF and EUROPOL. The majority of the customers that arrange and pay people, many are relatives of the victims, to sexually abuse children are from developed nations. The global connection by on-line communication makes online sexual exploitation of children a concern for every nation.

There is no nation without its paedophiles and most of them are using the internet and worldwide web to collect and view child pornography and pay for on-line sexual abuse. Many can do it with impunity because the Internet Service Providers and the Telecommunication Corporations are mostly unregulated. Anyone can post almost anything there and the corporations are not held responsible.

The Philippines have such a law which we at the Preda Foundation helped draft, Republic Act RA 9775, otherwise known as the Anti-Child Abuse Law. It demands that the ISPs install blocking software to block child pornography and on-line sexual abuse shows. However, the Philippine telecommunication corporations are too powerful and can ignore the law with impunity.

The national laws of European countries forbid such posting and sharing of child pornography and on-line sexual abuse but nevertheless, the laws are flouted and abuse is widespread and the telecommunication corporations ought to be more active in blocking it and be held responsible for not doing so.

The attitudes still persist from the past that paedophilia is not a serious problem and that attitude may persist as child pornography and on-line sexual abuse persist and continue to spread and grow especially in this time of lock-down and Covid-19 pandemic. There are 73 million Filipinos using the internet. Twenty-five million are children and 70 percent of these children are on-line without supervision.

Online child abuse has increased by 264 percent during the COVID pandemic, according to the Philippine National Police. Online customers for child sex abuse are mostly from developed countries, including member and observer States of your organization. Victims are as young as three years old. Relatives are the abusers and paid by courier.

As the headline this year says, “Germany investigates 30,000 suspects as online paedophilia probe widens.” (France24) Then we read, “France appeals for witnesses and victims abused by paedophile writer Matzneff.” He was a well-respected writer and television talk-show personality, a writer that, like other intellectuals and artists, glorified his exploits in child abuse and for years his admissions of sexually abusing children went without comment or action. He is now in hiding. These are good signals that things are moving on and awareness-raising is improving.

There has been indifference and apathy in the past to crimes of child abuse. More resources have to be devoted to detecting and apprehending child abusers and increasing the penalties for crimes against children. Billions are being spent on anti-terrorism prevention and apprehension. The greatest and most prolific of terrorists are those within society. They rape, abuse, physically and sexually assault children. They do it undetected and it happens in secret behind closed doors and not on the streets that’s why there is less response and action to end it and they do it around the world through live child sexual abuse shows on the Internet.

The numbers in the Philippines are truly shocking. About 80 percent or 32 million children suffer from violence at some time in their lives. Seven million of these children between the ages of 10 to 18 are sexually abused every year and 20 percent or 1.4 million are under 6 years old.

You have seen from the Preda Foundation video the hurt and pain that the sexual violence against children causes. We can safely assume the sexual abuse suffered in childhood damages millions of children in Europe and the Philippines and around the world. The anger and hatred we see being released in therapy shows the devastating effects of sexual violence on children. The many millions of children abused never report it out of fear or shame as most of it is done by biological fathers, stepfathers or live-in partners and paedophiles.

Few victims are able to speak out or get therapy or help. They grow up carrying the pain and hurt and anger within them. Should we be surprised if this anger at the world is expressed in acts of anti-social, political violence and crime or even acts of terrorism? Everything has its cause and psychologists will testify that childhood violence has life-long consequences.

Lastly, a thought for consideration. On this planet Earth, humans can achieve many amazing inventions and achievements, but as yet have failed to deal with that psychological and emotional condition in some humans whereby they sexually and physically attack children and those children have to live with the consequence with little or no help.

In Europe more educational campaigns should be promoted for children to be encouraged to complain and report when they have been abused and get immediate help. Much more help for child victims here in the developing world and Europe has to be provided.

We humans talking about human and children’s rights and dignity must together seriously dedicate ourselves all the more to continue the on-going work of eradicating, as much as possible, this evil scourge of child sexual abuse. Strictly regulate the Internet and the many platforms of social media, the most important place to continue this work.

Thank you.

Shay Cullen

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[People] Can Humanity Ever Be United in Doing Good? -by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights [People] Can Humanity Ever Be United in Doing Good?
Fr. Shay Cullen

The latest letter of Pope Francis, his Encyclical, Fratelli Tuttii “Brothers and Sisters All,” is one that should touch every heart, stimulate our minds, awaken our conscience, warm our emotions and motivate us to do good and make this a happier, just and better world. Can we humans ever unite as one humanity to change the world and together reach out to the downtrodden and the poor? Can we work together to lift from suffering the wounded, the excluded, the marginalized and unwanted, rejected, poor people in our neighborhood, community, town, and city? That is the challenge posed by the letter of Pope Francis.

His letter is one of enlightenment, encouragement, hope, and love. It is a mighty challenge for us to be true believers and followers of Jesus of Nazareth. It brings us back to the human and Christian values that established the dignity of humankind. It is a call for us to embrace and live out daily the values and principles that Jesus taught and lived and died for. This is the heart of Christian faith, a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth, and a shared fraternity with each other as brothers and sisters in one family of humanity.

As members of this universal family, we will embrace unselfish concern, love, and service for each other. Jesus gave himself no titles, others did that. They called him Rabbi, Teacher, Master, and Son of God. What Jesus called himself was “a member of humanity,” a “Son of Mankind,” as every one of us are members of the human family.

In this, Jesus was revolutionary and Pope Francis is repeating what Jesus taught: that we must love all others irrespective of whether they are one of our special groups. All persons are to be our neighbors. He called us to put aside group loyalty, leave elite fraternities, cast away membership in sects, clubs, and dynasties, upper and lower classes, tribal bonds, nationality, social status, and prestige. We are to abandon all the biases and prejudices that go with such select, exclusive closed groups that exclude and fear outsiders. The select group tends to exclude others and confront, despise, and disrespect those on the outside. We must leave our group and join all others in a single-family based on equality, justice, truth, and doing good for others.

If personal family ties would cause us to reject, exclude, or oppress others and separate us from the values of Jesus, we must cut the family ties. A shocking challenge for anyone who would be his true disciple even to the point where we must love even our enemy. “Do good to those who hate you,” he said. It seems impossible yet that is the ideal that Jesus taught, that we are all one humanity in one world, and he lived and died for all of us.

As members of God’s single-family, we share a common humanity, dignity, rights, and respect. This is what Pope Francis is reminding us, that as human beings we must be caring and responsible for each other irrespective of skin color, citizenship, religion, gender, status, or situation in life. We must also be caring for the planet, the environment, and protect all living creatures. The universality of the loving fraternity that Jesus taught is one that demands we love one another and we do to others as we would want them to do to us. This is the heart of what Jesus taught.

The world today, as Pope Francis said, with its many problems, injustice, racism, inequality, crime, and corruption, is a world under the darkness of evil. Yet the hope and love that Jesus of Nazareth shared with us can save humanity from self-destruction, hatred, violence, and nuclear war and even save us from extinction. It is by sharing life in a universal community and working together helping the poor and the oppressed that change will come. By standing and speaking out against violence, killings, child abuse, and evil, we will make Jesus and his spirit present again and change the world. We just need to persuade enough people to choose to do it.

In his Encyclical, Pope Francis takes the story that Jesus told to illustrate the welcome and acceptance and the help we should have for the outsider, for the stranger, the migrant, the excluded. These are the people who are treated with rejection, apathy, and indifference by the elite institutionalized clergy and the uncaring politicians.

As Pope Francis interprets it in today’s world, the suffering humanity has been beaten and robbed by the uncaring powerful robbers and left to die on the roadside. The victim was a stranger, an unknown. A member of the clergy and then a member of the ruling elite walk by on the other side of the road. They ignore the wounded, dying person. Then there comes a man, likely a trader, with a donkey. He is different, he is like an untouchable, an unclean, rejected person coming from Samaria. He doesn’t walk past, he is moved with compassion and concern. Immediately, he hurries to help the victim and cleans and treats the wounds, dresses them, and takes the victim on his donkey to the nearest inn. There, a humble, kind innkeeper, likely a poor man, accepts to care for the victim and the trader pays him and promises to return and pay more as needed.

“Who among the three was a true neighbor to the dying man and saved him”? Jesus asked. “The one who helped him,” the man in the audience answered. “You are correct, go and do likewise,” Jesus said. (Luke 10:25-37) The message is clear. When asked to state the way to eternal life, the man in the audience answered: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, life, strength and your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That story, as repeated by Pope Francis in his letter, explains that we are challenged to share and help, without discrimination, everyone, strangers, migrants, refugees, the poor, hungry, wounded, people of any skin color, and all suffering humanity.

http://www.preda.org
shaycullen@gmail.com

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[People] Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges -by Joseph Purugganan

Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges

By Joseph Purugganan

File Photo from Focus on the Global South website

In 2014, Trade Justice Pilipinas supported the Philippines’ pursuit of favorable trade privileges from the EU, hoping they would deter human rights abuses. Six years later, that hope has disappeared, and so should those privileges.

On 17 September, the European Parliament issued a resolution expressing its “deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte”. The resolution condemned the “thousands of extra-judicial killings and other serious human rights violations related to the so-called war-on-drugs” and the “threats, harassment, intimidation, rape and violence against those who seek to expose allegations of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations in the country”.

While many of the points raised in the Resolution were addressed to the Philippine government, some were directed toward the European Commission – the principal executive body of the European Union. In Item 20 of the resolution, the European Parliament “calls on the European Commission, in the absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities, to immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences”.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) program was granted by the EU to the Philippines in 2014 to incentivize sustainable development and good governance. It allows duty-free entry of more than 6,000 exports from the Philippines to the EU. These privileges were granted on condition of the Philippine government’s fulfillment of its obligations under 27 conventions on human and labor rights. As cited in the resolution, for 2019 alone, trade preferences were given to 25 percent of Philippine exports to the EU, amounting to around 2 billion euros.

Duterte’s lieutenants responded to the European Parliament’s resolution by downplaying the concerns it raised.

“No reason for the EU to revoke these privileges,” said Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“They have descended to the level of stupidity,” said foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., referring to the European Parliament.

These flippant retorts of Duterte’s deputies are to be expected. Duterte has built his personal brand upon open defiance in the face of criticism, especially of his human rights record. More startling, however, was the response of Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer who now serves as Duterte’s spokesperson, who said: “If they want to add to the burden of the Filipino nation during this pandemic, so be it, so be it. We will accept that as history repeating itself.”

Roque recognizes the importance of GSP+ privileges to the Philippine economy, yet he lays the blame for their potential withdrawal upon the European Parliament. He appears to be in need of a reminder that the Philippine government only secured those privileges in the first place by accepting the conditions that the government is now brazenly violating.

Roque’s retort exposes the rot at the topmost levels of the Philippine government. In the face of all criticism, this government consistently opts to shoot the messenger rather than look inward and alter its behavior. The government responded similarly to the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in July, which expressed concerns over “widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity.” There was no acknowledgement of shortcomings or failures, nor any commitment to correct mistakes or fulfill obligations.

Trade Justice Pilipinas (TJP), a platform convened by Focus on the Global South campaigning for just trade and investment policies, has been monitoring the Philippines’ GSP+ status from the start. When the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was preparing its application in 2014, it sought TJP’s help in securing the support of our allies in Europe for the Philippine government’s bid.

We supported the government’s application for two main reasons:

We felt any positive conditionality that could push the government to fulfill its international human and labor rights obligations should be supported.
We recognized the potential economic benefit that could arise from increased market access, which we were hoping would also benefit workers in the sectors covered by the GSP+ program.

But just as we advocated for the granting of these privileges when it seemed the conditions would be met, we have advocated just as forcefully for their withdrawal since it became obvious that the Philippine government has no interest in meeting these conditions.

The European Parliament’s resolution to withdraw the Philippines’ GSP+ status follows years of sustained advocacy at home by Trade Justice Pilipinas, the Trade Justice and Corporate Accountability Cluster of the Asia Europe Peoples’ Forum (AEPF), and the Germany-based Action Network for Human Rights (AMP), among other international networks.

In 2018, Trade Justice Pilipinas stated that “the human rights dimension must be stressed and strengthened further as a cornerstone of EU-Philippines relations”, and we called on the EU to “prove its commitment to human rights by reiterating human rights provisions in future agreements, including the proposed EU-Philippines free trade agreement. Otherwise, it risks eroding further [the EU’s] already diminished image as a defender of human rights and, at worst, highlights its complicity in the violations and atrocities being committed by the Duterte administration”.

In 2019, we issued another statement noting that under EU regulations, “where a GSP+ beneficiary country no longer fulfills the conditions or withdraws any of its binding undertakings, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act…to remove that country from the list of GSP+ beneficiary countries”. We further noted that the regulations “allow for temporary withdrawal of the trade preferences for, among others, serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in the conventions”. The statement concluded with a call for the EU Commission “to immediately commence the withdrawal procedure of the trade preferences granted under the GSP+ mechanism”.

In 2020, we joined other human rights groups and networks in an open letter addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Paul Hogan that reiterated our concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte and reminded the Commission of the findings of its own assessment reports:

In the GSP+ assessment reports on the Philippines covering the periods of 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, the Commission had already expressed grave concern regarding the human rights situation in the country. We underlined the fact that the latest assessment report already highlighted a number of concerning issues including the war on drugs, shrinking civil space, the attacks against human rights defenders, the possible lowering of the minimum age of legal liability, and the reintroduction of the death penalty. The report even concluded by stating: “The campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines continues to be a matter of grave concern, in particular a large number of related killings and prison overcrowding. Reintroducing the death penalty for drug-related offenses would be a worrying development and constitute a violation of the ICCPR’s Second Optional Protocol.”

To be clear, the European Parliament resolution will not cause the withdrawal or suspension of the GSP+ privileges; only the European Commission has the power to initiate this process. However, the resolution sends a very strong challenge to the Commission to live up to its responsibilities under the program.

There is now an urgency to the call for the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges. While conservative estimates place the number of extrajudicial drug-related killings at around 8,000, there is no official public record and no way to count killings that the police have not begun to investigate. Moreover, the death toll continues to rise as the government enjoys complete impunity for its deadly and useless war on drugs.

Roque wants to blame the EU for inflicting additional pain on the Philippines while the country reels from the impact of COVID-19, but he shows no remorse for the extrajudicial killings that have gone unchecked since the start of the pandemic. This is a government addicted to blaming others for its own misdeeds. To Roque and Duterte, human rights defenders are to blame for tarnishing the image of the country, and the EU is to blame for potentially damaging the economy.

The truth is the opposite. Just as the economic hardship afflicting Filipinos is a consequence of the government’s failed policies, the future losses triggered by the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges would be a consequence of the government’s ongoing human rights abuses.

We supported the previous government’s bid for GSP+ when it committed to upholding the dignity of its citizens. Now that Duterte and his cronies have abandoned that commitment, they have no one to blame for the fallout than themselves.

Joseph Purugganan is head of the Philippines office at Focus on the Global South.

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[People]The Explosion of Child Abuse Online -by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Explosion of Child Abuse Online
Fr. Shay Cullen

02 October 2010

The Covid-19 pandemic is on everybody’s mind, weighs on the spirit and invades the body, paralyzes social life, and cripples the world economy. Yet, people are adapting, surviving, recovering, and are resilient. They, but a few, are coping with the new normal, a reality that the virus is here to stay for a while longer and we have to live and survive it.

The best of human nature is seen in the dedicated service of health care workers. The risk, they sacrifice, they serve. Many tragically die helping others live. What an inspiration they are as they are saving lives and giving back health to the patients with Covid-19.

It is a privilege to help the poor, the sick and the abused children. They are emotionally, physically, and psychologically damaged by the brutal abuse of criminal adults. The dark side of human nature is always with us but now child abuse is expanding like another pandemic due to lock down.

The live streaming of child sexual abuse and the proliferation of pornography that lead to rape has grown. It is the secret crime, done alone to weak vulnerable children that are threatened and terrified to tell of their suffering and ordeal.

For many, it is the perfect crime but brave and courageous children and child defenders and advocates are fighting back. Wherever there are children, there will be abusers. The only gadget needed today to have online live streaming of child abuse is a low-cost smartphone and an internet connection. The internet service providers of the big telecommunication corporations like PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecoms and soon Dito Telecommunity make it all possible. They should have a greater corporate responsibility to block the abusive images and video passing through their servers. If they obey the law Republic Act 9775, they would install blocking software to prevent child sexual abuse. Solutions are available. Microsoft PhotoDNA and video DNA can filter and block the abusive images but the ISPs allegedly prefer to pay a small fine rather than protect the children. Senator Imee Marcos has filed a Senate resolution No.487 calling for an investigation into the dismal failures of the telecommunications corporations and their ISPs to block child pornography and live to a stream of child abuse under the law.

Jasmin is an 11-year-old child (not her real name) when she was groomed on-line and persuaded by her fake friend to send nude photos of herself and her private parts in return for money. Foolishly, she did it and too late she realized she had been fooled and her pictures appeared as child pornography online via Facebook and likely sold around the world to paedophiles. She is in shock and screams in anger and frustration in the therapy room at the Preda home where she sought help.

Many other children and adults are victims of similar sextortion scams and are being extorted for huge amounts of money by the scammers who lure them into exposing themselves foolishly online. The extortionists are threatening to send the photos to their friends, classmates, parents, and teachers. Suicides are common.

The pedophiles, many unable to travel and abuse children themselves, pay adults to perform sexual acts to children while live over the Internet for money. This is despicable, depraved, and deserving of life in prison. They are like blood-sucking bats that take the lifeblood from their victims.

Even Jesus of Nazareth told us the child is the most important in the world and abusers ought to have a millstone tied around their necks and he be thrown into the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:1-7) That’s tough talk indeed. We have to work for justice for the victims.
Child abuse is with us that long and the world religions, the self-appointed guardians of human morality that claim to be the protectors of children, have betrayed the trust given to them. Many clergies have abused children and it is covered up. It was treated lightly, not the heinous crime it truly is for which abusers must be challenged and held accountable.

Non-government organizations, children’s charities, and government agencies are fighting human trafficking and child abuse. In 2018, Preda children fought back against their rapists and won 18 convictions. In 2019, they won 20 convictions. Almost all got life sentences in jail. Hopefully, more convictions will follow in on-going cases being fought by Preda.

The spreading of child pornography on the Internet to mobile phones incite child rapists to abuse. A child recently rescued by Preda Foundation social workers was Rebecca (not her real name), 14. She was living in a small town in Zambales in dire poverty with her mother. They lived in a small, one-room shack made of bamboo slats and a tin roof. Rebecca is mentally challenged, and her adult male neighbors preyed upon her and raped her many times. They threatened her with a knife if she called out. It happened when she was left alone in the shack and the abuse continued until she became pregnant. Rebecca is now safe in the protection and care of the Preda Foundation home for abused children. The Preda Center will heal and help the child pursue justice against her rapists and have them convicted.

Even children view child pornography and are aroused and as reported here previously three boys in Subic town, Zambales, the youngest 10, gang-raped a six-year-old. In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, a 13-year old boy sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl. The abusers in both these cases were not even reprimanded. In the Subic case, the local authorities allowed the boys to go to relatives in another town instead of getting them counseling and rehabilitation. In the Sta. Cruz case. The boy is still in the community instead of being brought to an Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center. They will likely become adult rapists without help.

This is what is going on daily all over the country. Unless there is less talk and empty promises and more direct positive action to curb online sexual abuse of children, it will only continue to get worse. All who want to help, write your concern to Congresswoman Yeda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the Committee on the Welfare of Children (https://www.facebook.com/YeddaRomualdez) and Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children and Family Relations (risahq@gmail.com), for them to investigate and challenge the ISPs and bring strict control to the spread of child abuse on the Internet and protect the rights of the children.

shaycullen@gmail.com

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[People] Corruption and Spread of Covid-19 -by Fr. Shay Cullen

Corruption and Spread of Covid-19
Fr. Shay Cullen
24 September 2020

There are many global threats facing the world today. The most serious in everybody’s mind is the Coronavirus pandemic with 200,000 dead in the USA alone and spreading. It is a cause of shock and realization that we humans for all our economic, military and medical power is very weak and vulnerable to the invisible virus that has invaded our world, our communities, families and our bodies. Some nations have had success in controlling it; others have failed through incompetence and corruption.

Martha has a cheerful, happy-go-lucky personality, a healthy mother of four. On a recent Saturday evening, she forgot herself and went to a house party with friends to celebrate a birthday. She ignored precautions as did others and wrongly believed it wouldn’t touch her. But it did. By Friday, she was having strong coughing and fever symptoms and reactions and was rushed to the overcrowded hospital. There is painful convulsions, Martha struggled and gasped for breath, isolated from family, only the nurse, dressed in blue plastic, went to help her. It was no use, Martha quickly fell silent and died. It was her weak lungs, they said. Some underlying health condition said another. No one really knows why she died so quickly. There was no time for an autopsy, not even a proper funeral. She was brought straight to the crematorium, leaving behind a weeping crying, traumatized family.

There are hundreds of thousands of people like Martha and more of them every day. A mistake took away her precious, beautiful, happy life and that of her family. But it is also the many mistakes of the politicians that have failed to act decisively in time to lead and instruct the people that Covid-19 is a dangerous deadly virus with the power to kill and maim. They fail to insist that everyone must wear masks, avoid contact with others, disinfect, wash their hands frequently since anyone may have the deadly killer virus. It is spreading because many people ignore these precautions and corrupt, inadept and stupid failed leaders do not order and impose protective measures to save the vulnerable people and issue strong, consistent health warnings. They have failed to implement and insist on a national response to test and trace the infected people and isolate them. How else can this vicious virus that spreads like venom be contained? Those strong, respected leaders who did respond to the attack of Covid-19 in a wiser, more scientific and disciplined and educated manner saved hundreds of thousands of their citizens, which is their sworn duty.

In the nations with the highest death rates, it seems they have restricted the showing of videos of mass burials, lines of waiting coffins, full crematoriums, overcrowded hospitals, dying people and sick doctors and nurses. It is too shocking. Is it for some an effort to deny and cover up the real extent of their incompetence, criminal behaviour and lack of moral conscience all for the sake of retaining political power? Covid-19 is spreading and causing more sickness and death because of some selfish, pleasure-seeking and irresponsible people who flout precautions and care for no one other than themselves. In their ignorance, they demonstrate against the safety precautions no less.

It is our fervent hope and belief that the majority of humans are good, law-abiding people that care for others, protect them from Covid-19 and care for the public health and environment. They choose the good over evil. They act in a responsible way of saving their own lives, their families and neighbours. The people who do believe and choose to do the good and practice the values of love of the stranger, of neighbour and work for justice, have a responsibility to share those values so that equality, peace and harmony can be a reality in society. We should actively persuade and convince others to do likewise. Inactivity in the face of wrong is to allow it to grow and prosper.

It may seem like mission impossible to persuade the virus deniers and the climate sceptics of the truth of a pandemic and global warming. We have to challenge and call out the oppressors, corrupt leaders and politicians to do justice, respect the rights of all, to care and protect the public health and to serve humbly. To convince these people who live in darkness that it is a better life to be in the light and to bring happiness to people, not terror, oppression, pain, suffering, rights violations and death. It is a mission to persuade ordinary people to always choose the good over evil. It is a challenge for all to teach by a good example, taking action for justice and accepting and living the truth that justice and goodness is the path to happiness for all. It is a great shining ideal, but will it ever come to be?

This is the goal we must work for. There is so much evil in the world that allows the virus to spread uncontrolled in many countries, mostly among the poor. We see much irresponsible selfish behaviour by some national leaders, bankers, industrialists, military, police and criminals. We know that abuse and evil persist because they with the power choose the evil and reject the good as they exercise their free will corruptly. The evil comes from making the wrong choice to crush and hurt others to retain political and economic power and to plunder the nation. For them, the health and well-being of others is just a matter of lip-service, words without meaning, action without purpose, hypocrisy and skulduggery for selfish personal gain. The great hope is that a society, a nation, will evolve with the beautiful values, principles, and compassion that motivate overwhelming good that is the paramount driving force that brings happiness to all.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] We All Must Change to Defeat Covid-19 -by Fr. Shay Cullen

We All Must Change to Defeat Covid-19
Fr. Shay Cullen
21 August 2020

The catastrophe is upon us. The world is suffering and in shock as hundreds of thousands of people are dying from the coronavirus and economies are in chaos. This is because humans disrupted the natural world and caused this deadly virus to awaken like an angry dragon that is now infecting the world.

Human encroachment is destroying the natural world by capturing wild animals for sale and butchering them for bush meat. This is behind the outbreak of Covid-19. We humans are also busy overheating the planet, polluting the seas and skies, poisoning the rivers and waterways and killing and trading endangered creatures in wild animal markets giving rise to death-dealing diseases. The more we disrupt nature, the more we bring disaster upon ourselves. We are responsible for the outbreaks of killer viruses such as SARS coronavirus, Ebolavirus, HIV, MERS-CoV and now SARS-CoV2 that causes Covid-19 and more yet to come.

Coronaviruses are known to cause zoonotic diseases- originating in animals and transmitting themselves to humans. China has now banned the capture, trading and eating of wild animals. The rest of the world must stop it also although it’s too late as the coronavirus is wading among humans like a grim reaper with a flashing scythe. There are 22 million reported cases of infection, 14 million recovered patients and 777,000 confirmed deaths. The figures could be many more and it is increasing daily.

Human attacks on nature increase as poachers slaughter thousands of magnificent elephants and rhinos for their ivory. Exotic animals, birds and reptiles, many on the endangered list, are still bought and sold illegally but tolerated by African, Asian and South American Governments. The destructive encroachment by humans on the habitat of wild creatures around the world has driven most to the edge of extinction.

Covid-19 has been unleashed by this irresponsible human activity and what is shocking is that hundreds of thousands of potential victims are treating it lightly and laughing it off and defying health restrictions. They are spreading it like poisonous spores on the wind bringing sickness and death to rich and poor.

The real catastrophe is not only the response of nature to human destructive activity but the widespread lack of human concern and responsibility in this age where selfishness and self-interest dominate modern life.

It is people that must change if we are to survive the pandemic and more yet to come. We must cooperate and act together with an urgent sense of community responsibility if we are to escape infection by this dragon-like virus, a dragon not easily slayed.

Hospitals are overwhelmed as many thousands of compassionate, caring medical people put themselves at grave risk to help others. If they did not, the world would collapse into chaos and the suffering would be unbearable, unendurable with incurable sickness and abandonment. Then anger, insecurity, social unrest and political upheaval will be the inevitable result.

Nations and communities are held together by the good people, the frontline caregivers, doctors, nurses, orderlies, social workers and helpers. They are risking their lives and sacrificing themselves to serve others with dedication and love of the sick patients. They are truly the good Samaritans of this world. Without them, we would be lost to unrelieved pain and hardship, sickness without relief and misery without mercy. We would be the leaves of autumn, dying and falling to the earth alone. Their heroic commitment and compassion have saved many thousands and nursed them to recovery. Many of them too have been struck down and died from Covid-19, sacrificing themselves while helping others.

Yet many irresponsible people recklessly and uncaringly spread the infection by a lifestyle of pleasure and unconcern. To see positive change in the world, people have to change. How can we enlighten and persuade uncaring people to care for others and to embrace a kind, caring attitude to those in need? We urgently need that supreme virtue so sadly lacking in the world today, compassion, an attitude that is like a new spring of life, sunshine and flowers, in a world of death and decay.

Compassion is a firm belief in the equal value of every person carried by a deep feeling of empathy. To be a person of compassion, we must take action, to protect, to care, to help the suffering, the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed and the sick. It is a feeling in the heart, an urge to heal and cure and to undo injustice and create equality. It is what compels people to help people and is the essence of a caring sustainable society where justice and equality are the supreme goals to build a nation of sharing, filled with plenty and happiness.

The truth is that the ideal community of sunshine and flowers, a society based on compassion, justice, truth and freedom and caring for others, is in very short supply. It is an important ideal like that of bringing about the “Kingdom of Heaven” here on earth. We can be more compassionate people and help bring relief and help to the people still vulnerable and suffering from Covid-19. They suffer dire poverty, hunger and want and live in poor villages and are crowded into shameful shacks and shanties, hovels of death and slums of slime. The killer coronavirus rages through the lives of the oppressed and exploited poor, plunging them into agonizing sickness and misery of Covid-19 from which death is the only release. We can prevent this by education and supporting poor communities with relief and working for economic and social justice.
In the high-rise condominiums of the selfish, uncaring rich, relaxing in luxurious pleasure domes, the elite isolated in their palaces of plenty are devoid of compassion in their loveless, uncaring lives.

The challenge is to counter the greedy, loveless world of oppression and exploitation with compassion and justice to change ourselves and the world. With hope and a firm belief in the value of every life, in the power of goodness, in the force of love and to act daily to help others without seeking reward, then we can bring meaningful change and help bring about a compassionate, safe and caring society for all.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Just Judges Implement the Law for Abused Children -by Fr. Shay Cullen

Just Judges Implement the Law for Abused Children
Fr. Shay Cullen

Justice has been done and seen to be done by Judge Maria Angelica T. Paras-Quiambao of the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 in Angeles City, Pampanga lasts 11 June 2020. In an 81-page decision, she found Christina Limpin Mendoza, 22, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five counts of human trafficking for sexual exploitation by foreign pedophiles of two small children nine and 11 over a three year period.
The trafficker was sentenced to several life terms of imprisonment. This is a powerful message that child abusers and human traffickers will bear the full weight of the law. The Preda Foundation was supporting the children all the way in this significant case.

In another case, Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Logronio of the Regional Trial Court Branch12-FC in Olongapo City found Johnny Torres Medina guilty in a landmark decision dated 14 May 2020. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of child sexual abuse of two 11-year old children. The sentence strictly followed the law and sentenced him to many years in jail. The decision has been praised by many and has given much-needed justice to the child victims and encouragement to the child protectors and advocates.

Judge Maria Cristina J. Mendoza-Pizzaro has also given justice to many child victims of rape and abuse. While there is a massive failure of law enforcement to protect children from traffickers and abuse, the courts are ruling strongly in favor of child victims and survivors. Last 10 June 2020 the sixth division of the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of upholding the conviction of a child rapist who was convicted on 15 November 2018 of qualified rape of a seven-year-old child. The original judgment and conviction was made by Judge Maria Cristina J.Mendoza-Pizzaro who has a long significant history of a no-nonsense application of the law with many just convictions of child sexual rapists and traffickers. They will never abuse or rape children again.

The Preda home for children protected the child victims for years and supported the legal action to the conclusion. In 2019, the Preda child protection foundation helped children win twenty convictions including cases against foreigners. In 2018, the Preda children won 18 convictions against their abusers and rapists and traffickers and many every year previously. This is a strong meaningful intervention in the fight for justice for children.

Preda Foundation has successfully assisted international police agencies with their enquires. In 2019, the convicted notorious pedophile, Douglas Slade, was jailed for 24 years in Bristol, the UK with the help of the Preda Foundation. The civil case brought against him in the London High Court by Preda for compensation for his five Filipino victims was successful. Huge awards were won but the lawyer was only able to collect from Slade a small amount.

Convictions send a strong message to pedophiles that they could spend most of their lives in the harsh, unforgiving conditions of jails where they will be unable to rape or abuse more children.

The most vulnerable is society are the children and teenagers that are at great risk of sexual abuse in their own home and in the street and trafficked into brothels or sold as sex slaves to pedophiles.

Angelica, an eight-year-old child (not her real name) was admitted to the Preda home for girls recently. She was sexually tied up by her biological father and sexually assaulted and beaten repeatedly on the head leaving cuts and bruises. The father had abducted her from her mother and he hid away in a remote place where he repeatedly sexually abused her. Her brother Peter, 11, (not his real name) saw the abuse. He too was tied, assaulted, and beaten by the father and is traumatized.

Angelica and Peter got free and ran away and were found by authorities who brought them to the Preda homes for abused traumatized children- the only place that can provide adequate therapy, healing, and legal assistance to them. Angelica is severely traumatized and is receiving affirmation, care, therapy, and counseling. She is just one of the thousands of children sexually assaulted and abused.

In Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, a 15-year old girl, and her18-year old cousin were going home late after a party and were picked up by two police who sexually assaulted them. The 15-year-old escaped and went to the police in another town to report the crime and file a complaint and asked for protection that was denied. While on her way home, a death squad appeared. Two men riding on a motorcycle shot her repeatedly. She was raped and then murdered for filing a complaint against the police. It is outrageous and is the new low level where the value of life had sunk into oblivion in our society.

The world has become a permissive society that turns a blind eye to the extensive abuse in the home and in brothels and through on-line child sexual abuse. The Internet Server Providers (ISPs) violate the law by not installing AI-operated blocking software to filter out child pornography and online abuse and identify the child abusers. Their violation of the law RA 9775 brands them as enablers of child abuse online and child pornography. Let their board members answer to the law and history for that.

Many children are exploited in the sex industry that thrives in sex bars operating with mayor’s permits and police protection. The local government’s approval and support of the sex industry are destroying Filipino family values. It attracts local men and foreigners and destroys families, causes broken homes, abandoned children, and victims of child abuse. It is a corrupting influence and thrives, with sex bars reopening despite the dangers of HIV-AIDS and Coronavirus spreading into the community from the personal person-to-person contact in sexual encounters.

There is a great culture of silence that is condoning the sexual violence and abuse of children. Even the churches and denominations are, with a few exceptions, silent and complicit.

There has to be wide community repentance and conversion of the silent, inactive, do-nothing, say-nothing, think-nothing, feel-nothing clergy and civic leaders that live for their personal ambition and comfort blissfully living fake lives for pleasure in total contradiction of the compassion, justice and truth taught by Jesus of Nazareth and his gospel values.

http://www.preda.org

 

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[People] History is Made as Social Issues Challenge Politics -by Fr. Shay Cullen

History is Made as Social Issues Challenge Politics
Fr.Shay Cullen

Something has happened that is really changing the world besides the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is changing our lifestyles, our economy, and medical practices. But a greater social movement is underway as seen in numerous demonstrations by many thousands of protesters around the world. It is a protest against the dominating force of the small elite of ruling oligarchies that dominate a country’s economy and political system that oppresses and kills its citizens with impunity.

It is not the politicians who are now setting the agenda but the masses of protesting people as in the United States who have a democratic space to do so. Although the rulers try to squash, limit, and eradicate people power by force and erase that democratic right and space in some places, it breaks out anew elsewhere. In Hong Kong, we witness the freedom to protest eradicated as the Chinese draconian National Security Law, rushed through by the Communist Party, is implemented as an anti-terrorism law to crush free speech and give life-sentences to protestors.

This is the end of Hong Kong as it has been since British rule when there were greater freedom and democratic space until now. The One Country, Two Systems arrangement has been shattered. Taiwan is taking note for sure. Despite lifting almost a billon Chinese people from dire poverty through a capitalist-communism system and becoming almost the number one world economic power in only fifty years, the Chinese historical opportunity to be a truly great nation in world history is long gone, too. China’s amazing economic achievement is a tainted and diminished reality in world history by violations of human and political rights and island grabbing in the South China Sea. The Communist Party has, instead of winning glory, earned the ire of nations and less respect and prestige. Today while one social movement in Hong Kong is squashed, other social movements in the United States and other countries are gathering pace and becoming changers of history.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement is challenging police brutality and indiscriminate killing of African- Americans. They are demanding the equality and respect that is owed and rightfully belongs to all people and especially to people of color. Even there, the ruling elite of the right led by Donald Trump is trying to squash the democratic space for many years. In Washington, Trump used tear gas, flash bombs, and police force to disperse peaceful demonstrators in front of the White House, clearing a way for him to walk to a church and hold up a Bible for a photo opportunity. In Ferguson, Mississippi on 13 August 2014, police shot dead Michael Brown and there was an uprising by African-Americans. Their demonstration released a flood of anger and repressed feelings at the police oppression and deprivation of social justice. The police, predominantly white, were militarized and national guards with armored cars turned their machine guns on the people in a show of intimidation and force. The blatant public killing of unarmed African-American man George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis, Minnesota last 25 May 2020 showed that racist oppression and repressed anger were still there. Three police officers came to arrest George Floyd for allegedly passing a counterfeit 20-dollar bill. One of the police, Derek Chauvin, cruelly pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd while he cried, “I can’t breathe” for almost nine minutes. The murder was captured on cell phone video and the victim died soon after. The video went viral and ignited again a repeat of the Ferguson uprising but this time it spread to almost 100 cities across the United States denouncing institutionalized racism and police brutality. The “Black Lives Matter” protest is still ongoing and has spread around the world as oppressed and exploited indigenous people and people of color join the global protest and demand social justice and human rights.

President Donald Trump has been heavily criticized for twitting a video in support of a white supremacist shouting “White power!” from a golf cart. The movement, consisting of black and white protesters, can be summed up as a mass protest against that one phase, “white power.” It is now international, native Americans, African- Americans, indigenous people and people of color in Canada, Brazil, France, the UK, and many other countries are marching.

There is an outrage and a mighty force of people power rising up to challenge the status quo and the oppressive dominant attitudes of the white supremacist and the hatred and racism expressed on social media such as Facebook. Facebook is now challenged by the business community that is withholding advertising from Facebook until it changes its support for hate speech. It is doing so.

What we have to understand is that racism is not just a few white supremacist people lording it over the African-American or brown or Asian people and considering them as inferior. It is a “political and social power” issue. South Africa was ruled by white supremacist leaders for a century until Nelson Mandela came to lead a national protest. The US Congress and Senate are a majority of white politicians.

The American white supremacist ruling elites were shocked and deeply angered by the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American to be president of the United States. Then, in retaliation it seemed, they got Trump elected. Trump, a white supremacist, and racist himself did everything to destroy the Obama legacy and achievements and criminalize the protesters today.

The Movement began more than 300 years ago when Africans were enslaved and shipped to the Americas. At its very worse, racism is the mentality of powerful people in a nation that consider the poor, those of different skin color and the indigenous peoples to be almost sub-human and that killing them is a public service as some police and military around the world do like in the United States, France, Syria, Brazil and elsewhere. The police killers in the United States and military who kill with impunity have no empathy, compassion, and respect for others. They have animal-like “killer instinct.” They act on emotion, not reason. So it is they that are less fully human than their victims.

Removing statues that glorify the racists and slavers, banning the confederate flag, changing the name on racist skin bleaching creams, boycotting Facebook, bringing in new laws on policing are just symbols of change. While social justice, equality, and respect for all people has to be an immediate goal, long term change to eradicate racism has to be in the hearts and minds of the people. It starts in the classroom, where education is the key, and a next-generation needs to know, practice, and live by the values of community equality and mutual respect, true social and civil justice, and love of neighbor.

http://www.preda.org
shaycullen@gmail.com

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[People] US and China Spar over the Philippines -by Fr. Shay Cullen

US and China Spar over the Philippines
Fr. Shay Cullen
27 June 2019

The fishermen of Masinloc and Sta. Cruz, Zambales had fished the Scarborough Shoal for generations. In the past several years, the Filipino fishing boats have been harassed and prevented from fishing near the fish-rich shoal by the incursion of Chinese fishing and militia boats.

In June 2019, a Chinese militia ship sank a Filipino boat in the West Philippine Sea in an act of aggression that left the Philippines looking weak and powerless. The Chinese Navy has boldly sailed its aircraft carrier and escort ships through the Philippine Sibutu Passage without prior permission, violating Philippine sovereignty. China is claiming exclusively almost all of the territory of the South China Sea that includes the West Philippine Sea within a nine-point -dash line that it has drawn around the edge of the South China Sea.

The Scarborough shoal, the Spratlys and Pag-asa groups of islands and other islands are well within the Philippines 12-nautical mile territorial sea and the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. In the face of Chinese claims, this right has been upheld by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. In a historic decision, the court declared “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.” “Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the Tribunal found that it could — without delimiting a boundary — declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China,”

China does not recognize the international arbitration decision and did not attend the hearings. Instead, it continued to build up its military power in several Islands claimed by the Philippines, installing long-range surface to air missiles and building structures and aircraft runways. In a belated response, the Philippines has begun in 2020 to build up infrastructure in Pagasa Island, one of its biggest inhabited islands in the Spratly Islands.

Despite Chinese objections, after two years of delay, it has built a landing ramp and a wharf for small ships to dock and land equipment to pave the existing 1.2-kilometer dirt runway. Pagasa Island is just twenty-six kilometers northeast of the Subi Reef which is now a large Chinese military installation(one of several) on a man-made island and armed to the teeth but is within Philippines territorial waters.

The Chinese send their warships through the Philippines ‘ territorial waters as if they own them. In 2018, 35 Chinese naval ships traversed Philippine territorial waters without prior permission which is a violation of Philippine sovereignty. The Philippine defense department said that in 2018 as many as 434 Chinese ships traversed Philippines waters without prior notice and in 2019 the number was 389 ships. For sure, the source of this information is from the US Navy which keeps a close watch on all ship movements in the region.

The US has sent its warships passed the islands claimed by the Chinese to establish that they are in international waters and they have the “Freedom of Navigation.” They are challenging the naval might of the Chinese navy that cannot thwart them without starting World War III.

The Chinese taunting of the Philippines and probing of the US response is a very serious problem for the Philippines. They are caught in the middle of a global power struggle. The Chinese claim the area by “power of possession.” It is adverse and illegal possession by international law, which they ignore. The Philippines is powerless to stop them and the US will not intervene. It is as if China is annexing Philippine territory. The Chinese will benefit by drilling for oil and mining minerals in the ocean’s depths and the Philippines will lose their rightful natural resources. So it is not just the hundreds of tons of fish that the Chinese are taking every day from Philippine waters but soon they will be exploiting the rest of the Philippine natural resources. In 2016, the Philippine government put aside these concerns and entered into a new relationship of friendship with China and took out huge loans from the Chinese government, creating a debt-bondage relationship.

The only check on the powerful Chinese Navy is the United States. It was the ruler of the waves in the Asian region for decades and is still a force to be reckoned with. The United States lost access to its huge military bases in the Philippines in 1992. This was due to the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption, diplomatic blunders, and a strong social and human rights campaign by NGOs. Started and led by Preda Foundation, they campaigned successfully to convert the bases to Filipino civilian use because of the sexual exploitation of women and children in the huge military-driven sex industry.

On May 27, 1999, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) came into force. This allows the US access to Philippine airfields and navy ships to dock in Philippine ports. There are three presently at Subic Bay. However, on 11 February 2020, the Philippine government suddenly announced the termination of the VFA causing consternation in Washington because of the denial of a US visa to a political ally of President Rodrigo Duterte. The termination was due to take effect on 11 August 2020. The Chinese were delighted, always seeking ways to lure allies away from the US and weaken the US military presence in the Asian-Pacific region. However, Filipinos with millions of relatives in the United States and thousands planning to join them much prefer the pact with the US than a deal with the Chinese Liberation Army.

So on 3 June 2020, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin announced that the Philippine government would extend the VFA at least until the end of the year. This may be to counter the dominating Chinese presence or a negotiating tactic to wring more concessions from the United States. Only time will tell.

http://www.preda.org

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