Category Archives: People

[People] The Power of the Innocent | by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Power of the Innocent
Fr. Shay Cullen

They are the brave, they are the strong, they are the empowered children that, at very young ages, some just six years old, stand up to their rapists and abusers, and with courage, bravely recount to the court of justice the wicked, sinful and criminal acts done to them.

The sexual abuse of children is as common as drinking coffee but the public does not know that there are thousands of abusers seeking out children every day. No child is ever totally safe. Anyone could be an abuser. Child abuse is a secret hidden crime done with threats, intimidation, and pressure on the child never to tell anyone or else something bad will happen to them or their siblings or relatives. The rapist will instill fear in the child with threats and he or she controls the child with fear ensuring silence.

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[People] Defending and Protecting Human Rights | by Fr. Shay Cullen


Defending and Protecting Human Rights
by Fr. Shay Cullen
10 December 2021

When we look around the world today, we see that the people of many countries do not have their human rights fully respected, honored, protected, and celebrated by the governments that have the duty to do so. In fact, everywhere there are many violations by state agencies, police and military, and fellow citizens. The human species aspire to the highest values of being human but are weak, remiss, and dismissive in implementing and respecting those high ideals of the rights inherent in the species because they are human.

Everyone should be aware that every person, according to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has inalienable rights that must be respected and protected. Irrespective of their nationality, ethnic origin, sex, gender, color, religion, language, or any other status, every person has universal rights. These are the rights: to life, to water, food, security, family, employment, education, freedom and health, and the right to live as they choose.

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[People] Three Catastrophes are Already upon the World | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #ClimateChange

Three Catastrophes are Already upon the World
Shay Cullen
29 October 2021

We must face the unpleasant and painful truth about what is happening to the planet and our lives. You may think that the climate catastrophe facing mankind is global warming but in fact, there are at least three catastrophes behind the climate change disaster.

The first one is the effect of CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane that are covering the planet like a blanket and locking in the heat of the sun. It is like putting the planet in a glass-covered greenhouse. The heat is causing devastating droughts, leaving millions of people without food. This is causing massive migration of the hungry populations from the South to the North. The earth and forests are burning down. In Russia, Europe, the USA, and Australia, enormous forest fires destroy all before them.

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[People] Pedophiles Abuse Children while Court of Appeals Sleeps | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Children

Pedophiles Abuse Children while Court of Appeals Sleeps
Shay Cullen
22 October 2021

The recent decision of the Department of Education (DepEd) to dismiss for Grave Misconduct from the teaching profession Franco N. Aranas, a teacher in New Cabalan High School, Olongapo City should have been a swift decision to protect children and see justice done. However, it has taken almost three years before the decision was made to dismiss the abusive teacher who sexually abused his students. Yet this teacher, Franco N. Aranas, while found guilty for Grave Misconduct by the DepEd’s Regional Director, May B. Eclar, can continue teaching in the same school until the dismissal from service is confirmed by Secretary Leonor Briones of the DepEd. We earnestly hope that Secretary Briones acts speedily to confirm the decision of the Regional Director to protect children and see justice is done. The DepEd must not harbor a child abuser among its ranks.

What is wrong with the system where it is clear justice delayed is justice denied, a system that favors the sex abusers and ignores traumatized children? It casts a dark shadow over the institutions. The teacher was accused of sexually abusing three minor students, one 14 and two 15 respectively, in the Sunshine Lodge near the Victory Liner station in Olongapo City on two separate occasions in June and August 2018. This place ought to be investigated for enabling human trafficking and child abuse, violations of law.

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[People] Children are the Most Important of All- Jesus | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Children

Children are the Most Important of All- Jesus | by Fr. Shay Cullen
10 October 2021

The attention of most adults is primarily focused on what they consider to be the most important reality in the world- themselves, especially many clerics. Yet there is one overriding unassailable truth that stands above all else in the teaching of the founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth.

The truth that 2.382 billion Christians, including 1.329 billion Roman Catholics, have supposedly bound themselves to accept and obey is that children are the most important in the Kingdom of God. To accept, recognize and affirm a child with that exalted status and dignity is to accept Jesus himself.

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[People] Torture and Abuse of Children in Jails | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Torture #Children

Torture and Abuse of Children in Jails
Shay Cullen
24 September 2021

The unpleasant truths about the torture and abuse of children behind bars are the truths that may not set us free from guilt, apathy, and indifference. It is not only in the Philippines’ Bahay Pag-Asa, youth detention jails, that children and youth are maltreated and abused in detention but also in many countries. Treating youth as criminals has a life-long traumatic impact on them. One thing for sure is the loss of trust and respect for the adult world of authority that allows them to be abused. As the saying goes, “Abuse a child and you make an enemy.”

In Cambodia, last June, Kak Sovann Chhay, an autistic 16-year old Cambodian teenager following the human rights activism of his jailed father, was jailed. Kak Sovann Chhay sent a message on Telegram to government supporters that were considered insulting to government officials. The police broke into his house without a warrant. He was handcuffed, arrested, beaten and jailed in the adult jail of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. His mother is not allowed to visit him. A lawyer has and reports squalid conditions not fit for an animal. UN officials have been alerted and expressed urgent concern for violations of his human rights. He is facing two years in jail in the notorious sub-human conditions of a Cambodian prison.

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[People] The Loss of Life in a Twenty-Year War | by FR. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Peace

The Loss of Life in a Twenty-Year War
by Fr. Shay Cullen

Life is precious and sacred. Many people believe in the sanctity of the human person with rights and dignity to be protected and preserved. This is not true for many more who kill and murder and execute their perceived enemies. Those that declare war and invade other nations are also guilty of bringing death and destruction. There is no “good” war. In the end, after millions are dead and wounded, peace is negotiated and made, and life returns to normal. Why then fight the war in the first place and not negotiate a settlement of differences before violence is inflicted? That is because war is very profitable for weapons manufacturers. A prolonged “endless” war is the best thing ever for the industrial military complex.

This industry dominates and greatly influences American politics and the US economy. It is what President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation about in 1946. He called it a danger to the nation. The permanent armaments industry is today immensely greater and more powerful. It needs, and perhaps, promotes continuous wars to sell more arms to prosper and grow.

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[People] The Burning and Flooding of the Planet | by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Burning and Flooding of the Planet
Fr. Shay Cullen

Anyone watching on television the images of burning forests, the raging floods destroying lands and villages, massive landslides burying homes and people have no reason to deny the truth. The latest UN report on the climate crises by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) signed by 159 nations once again informs us that we human are responsible for this terrible crisis.

We humans are bringing disasters upon ourselves by tolerating and allowing through corrupt politicians the coal, oil and gas energy companies to promote their extraction and continual burning of fossil fuel. By financially supporting the election campaigns of friendly politicians, they are getting massive government subsidies to continue to produce and burn coal, oil and gas.

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[People] 𝗢𝗛 𝗠𝗬 𝗖𝗢𝗔! | by Wilson Fortaleza

#HumanRights #Corruption #COA


Bidang ahensya ngayon ang Commission on Audit (COA). Sikat na sikat. Sunod-sunod kasing naglabasan ang audit reports nito para sa taong 2020 at bumulaga sa mata ng publiko ang mga sabit ng maraming ahensyang nababanggit.

Pero bakit nga ba naging bidang bigla ang COA ngayon? Wala namang malalim na paliwanag. Katulad lang ito ng pelikula na ang kinang ng bida ay nakasalalay sa papel ng kontrabida. Ni wala ngang sikat na bida sa tanggapan ng COA.

Dahil wala namang bago sa ginagawa ng COA. Regular lang naman itong naglalabas ng kanyang annual report. At kung hindi man supplied ang media, nakapaskil at accessible din sa publiko ang audit reports nito na makikita sa kanyang website. Ibig sabihin, kahit na manahimik ang ahensya ay nariyan lang din naman ang mga ulat ng COA na maaring makuha ng mamamahayag o ninuman.

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[People] Standing for the Rights of Indigenous People | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #IndigenousPeoples

Standing for the Rights of Indigenous People
Shay Cullen
20 August 2021

Indigenous peoples are under threat as never before and need the international community to stand with them as they demand justice, their ancestral land rights, and an end to the exploitation and abuse they suffer in many countries.

They suffer discrimination, stigmatization, and racism. How disingenuous that is since all people in the world today descended from some indigenous tribal people through the ages. In fact, DNA tests show that everyone in the world is descended from one common ancestor in Africa. Real science does not lie. The human species emerged in the Makgadikgadi-Okavango wetland. It was not just any home, but the ancestral “homeland” for all modern humans today.

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[People] Human Trafficking, Why so Few Convictions? | Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #HumanTrafficking

Human Trafficking, Why so Few Convictions?
Fr. Shay Cullen
6 August 2021

The recruitment and sale of humans is an age-old crime against the rights, freedom and dignity of everyone exploited and forced to work for little or no wages and controlled and trapped by their traffickers and slave-masters.Young women and boys are especially targeted and offered fake jobs and given empty promises to get them to sign documents that put them in debt and under the control of their recruiters. Worse, when trafficked to work in the Philippines or abroad, they are forced to work in brothels, as domestics, in factories and are living mostly in sub-human conditions and are underpaid. Many are brought to brothels and sex parlors, sexually abused and trapped in sex work from which few escape.

The “Not for Sale Fund,” an international charity says, “Today, there are approximately 45.8 million people caught in the trap of modern slavery around the world. This includes 10 million children, 15.4 million people in forced marriage, and 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation. However, it is difficult to determine exact statistics because so many cases of human trafficking go undetected and unreported.”

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[People] Protecting the Planet | by Fr. Shay Cullen

#HumanRights #Environment

Protecting the Planet
Shay Cullen

11 June 2021

Have you ever seen the sun set upon the sea,
the migrating birds fly in formation proud?
Have you ever seen the mighty forest and heard the birds sing clear and loud?
Have you seen the flowers in the meadows and the fields that provide the nectar for the bee, That gives the honey in the hive hanging from the tree?
Have you ever seen the dolphins race across the ocean wave,
The mighty whales that swim the oceans strong and brave?
A breathless sight of beauty you will ever see
If we will just allow them to live and to be.

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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