Category Archives: People

[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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[People] When the Light Shines Again -by Fr. Shay Cullen

When the Light Shines Again
Fr. Shay Cullen
19 June 2020

It was a happy day for Joshua. He graduated from the Preda vocational training program and proudly held a student’s driver’s license and his graduation certificate while the camera clicked to record the moment and everyone there applauded. It was his day when the light shone for him.

He had completed and passed his driving test at the Preda Home for Boys and completed a course in shielded metal arc welding. He can apply for a job as a basic welder or driver when he gets his license. He was only seven months in the Preda program and his life had dramatically changed at that time.

Joshua was once a child prisoner, locked in a small bare prison cell with graffiti on the walls, a hole in the floor for a toilet, and what a dark dangerous smelly place it was. The dark dungeons of Dicken’s novels were the only comparison.

He became a fighter, a rebellious child prisoner. He opposed all authority, even the cell boss-man couldn’t control him so they beat and kicked him. The world for Joshua was a mean and dangerous place where his survival was threatened every day. They fought over the small food allowance of rice and expired cans of fish. He fought off the bigger youths that tried to rape him. He kicked and gouged and defended himself.

The day came when he was saved from this hell-hole of misery. He was released from the unjust and unnecessary detention. His only so-called crime was he was homeless and broke curfew. His father died when he was ten years old and his stepfather beat him and cursed him. He ran away and took to the streets; there was no home, no acceptance just rejection. The local officials locked him in the youth detention center where the Preda social workers found him bruised, angry, and rebellious.

With the release order signed by the judge, he came to the Preda home for boys in the countryside without fences, no cells just freedom and friendship. It was not an easy transition. His old survivalist ways dominated. He bullied others and fought for dominance as he believed that was what he was supposed to do in this world. He had learned on the streets and the jail cells that no one cares, no one helps, no one loves him.

That changed day by day as he realized that he was cared for, that he was respected, no one bullied him, he joined values formation sessions, education classes and slowly he realized he had landed in a family that cared.

He was respected for the first time in his life and was free to choose to stay and to change and learn. He had emotional release therapy and screamed out his buried pain and hatred for the abuse he suffered. He joined the sports, outings, games, and picnics. Soon, he was taking vocational training. He was transforming. He tamed himself.

He is now a happy, intelligent mature youth together with twenty classmates who are also growing and changing at the Preda home. Most of them are also taking the vocational training course as part of their diversion program under the Philippine Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) or Republic Act 9344 that promotes restorative justice rather than harsh punishment. His graduation day and chance to be reintegrated into his sister’s family were when the light shone for him. It was a new day, a bright shining moment when he knew that he was truly accepted respected as a person of value and had true friends and would be helped to succeed in life.

Benjie, only 16, has completed many hours of electrical repair training and driving which will be a good chance for him to get a job when he leaves the Preda home and becomes of legal age. He has completed his Alternative Learning System (ALS) education which is a substitute for the years he missed for high school after he was arrested for making and possessing illegal drugs. He discovered his true self, has human value and dignity at Preda home for boys. Thousands have been helped since 1974 to find recovery, peace, and success in life. The light has shone for many like Benjie. His life story is a sad one as he tells it.

“My parents are separated; I was left with my grandmother in the slums when I was 10. Lola (grandmother) became old and sickly because we had no money and I begged for food. When I was 14 years old I tried to support her by selling vegetables from the open market but it was wasn’t enough for survival. We ate the rotten ones and bought pag-pag (uneaten leftovers from restaurants). Then a drug dealer recruited me, offered me cash and food, and then drugs. I got hooked myself and I owed him money and worked for him. I was controlled by this gangster drug dealer, there was no way out. He threatened me and would kill Lola if I ran away and refused to deliver his dirty drugs. I was set for a life as a criminal and would likely be dead because of the war against drugs. If I was not saved by Preda and that lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), I would have been killed for sure.”

When Preda social workers intervened and the judge agreed to send Benjie to Preda, that was when the light shone for him. He graduated and has a bright future ahead of him. He can make his way in life and will succeed and his children will learn the values of respect and love and dignity.

As many as 1,230 children are confined today in youth detention centers as far as we know. There could be more that we don’t know. They are deprived of liberty and behind bars or in cages around the Philippines. The Preda Foundation has campaigned for the release of the children and as of today the number released is 323 children so far. There is hope and we must continue to advocate for the release of the unjustly jailed children.

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

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[People] Are PLDT and Globe Enabling the Transmission of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children? -Fr. Shay Cullen

Are PLDT and Globe Enabling the Transmission of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children?
Fr. Shay Cullen
11 June 2020

The Internet Server Providers (ISP’s) such as PLDT and Globe in the Philippines and thousands around the world must be challenged and held accountable for allegedly failing to block effectively, with the latest AI-enabled software, the transmission of child pornography and the heinous crime of online sexual exploitation of children live-streamed to paying pedophiles around the world. Child abuse and pornography is an international crime and needs a local and international response. Globe is planning to expand into Europe, but we will campaign against it if there is no change.

The Philippines has been named as the world hot spot for child pornography and online sexual exploitation of children. Only a few weeks ago 13 children more were rescued from cyber-crime dens in Biliran. Home for under investigation clerical sexual abuse, where a US priest, Kenneth Pius Hendricks and others sexually abused children for decades.

The ISP’s must be held accountable for failing to obey and fully respect the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 otherwise known as the Republic Act 9775 by installing up-to-date effective blocking software in their servers. This is the only effective answer to the rampant widespread child pornography “pandemic” sweeping the Philippines and the world.

Globe informed me that after eleven years of failing to comply with the law they installed in 2017 DNS software to block websites that they know or contain child porn and said they depend on the Department of Justice to inform them of such websites. This is most likely a category based and very simple and cheap software. It is most likely to be very ineffective since there are daily streams of child porn passing through Globe servers and those of PLDT. The illegal and horrific images of little children being sexually abused live on the internet is capable of reaching the computers, tablets, and smartphones of Filipinos and pedophiles abroad as detected by law international enforcement.

As Globe tells me there is a new child porn website to quickly replace the old. That’s because they have outdated ineffective cheap DNS software. What they should have, and they know it is Real-time; Artificial Intelligence (AI) based software. This continues to crawl the worldwide internet for signals and sites promoting child porn and live streaming. It detects instantly and continues to update in real-time by machine learning using Artificial Intelligence (AI). No human employees needed, it is strong, and lives forever once installed as a High-Tech expert from Zyalin Software Company informed me since they design such effective software.

Pldt/Smart responds and informs me that to meet their requirements under the RA 9775, 2009 law where they are required to install software to block child pornography but have not done so for eleven years, said they are proposing a solution to Government to act, not them. “We have been suggesting that the government consider the use of a technology solution developed by Microsoft for this purpose”. Also, they said in a letter to me: “For example, at this point, it is not possible for ISPs to selectively block bad content being live-streamed via global internet platforms. If Philippine ISPs attempt to do this, the entire global internet platform will be blocked”. This is totally wrong as companies with powerful AI blocking software can do it.

PLDT/Smart and Globe can stop the horrible sex crimes against children and prevent them from happening. They must obey the law and install the latest effective blocking filters. However, why do they not have the latest most effective child porn blocking software? Because it will slow down their Network, that’s why. Because customers will have to wait a few seconds longer to connect and might switch to a rival ISP. Really it is about greed and money not about children being raped and abused over the ISPs servers. Perhaps, they have some sweetheart deal with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to ignore the law and pay a small fine for not complying.

If President Rodrigo Duterte is the strong-minded, iron-fisted champion of law and order and child protection, to save the nation he will act bravely and decisively order the ISP’s like PLDT/Smart and Globe to obey RA 9775 the Anti-Child Pornography Law of 2009. I believe that he is already planning to do this.

Republic Act 9557, under Section 9, says: “The duties of Internet Server Providers (ISP) to monitor the content passing through their servers notify the police of illegal content and provide the authorities the particulars of users who gained or attempted to gain access to an Internet address which contains any form of child pornography. All ISP’s shall install available technology, program, or software to ensure access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.”

The Cyber-crime Prevention Act of 2012 otherwise known as the Republic Act 10175 also bans cybersex and child pornography, among other things. President Rodrigo Duterte can increase his huge popularity, now at 72 percent, if he will recommend a swift amendment to the law that will increase the penalty to the ISP’s for non-compliance to ten million pesos a day until they fully comply with the law and install the most effective efficient child porn AI-based blocking software. The fines paid can be for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help child victims. The law can back-fine the ISP’s for violating the law for 11 years, at a million a day.

As you read this, thousands of young Filipinos are exposed to viewing, damaging, disturbing, and psychologically hurtful content passed through the ISP servers on the Internet. These are illegal graphic images on home-made videos of young children- girls and boys- being sexually raped and abused. Your child could be viewing these terrible videos and pictures without your knowledge. You can be sure they won’t tell you and you will never know but might notice disturbing changes in their personality and character.

You might think it is due to drugs but now think- child pornography. Their teenage peers download them and share them through the Internet-enabled by the ISP’s. Some teenagers also make child pornography videos of their own sexual abuse of young girls and boys and share them with classmates or gang-mates or upload them on YouTube. They extort sexual favors and money from underage victims by threatening to post the videos. A young uncle of two small children abused them and uploaded the child sexual abuse on Youtube possibly through Globe or PLDT or their subsidiary. He is now charged with child abuse and cybersex abuse of children. Hundreds of children are sexually abused daily and The ISP’s go free, for now.

This online sexual exploitation of children through the ISPs must change. Globe and PLDT/Smart must obey the RA 9775 law. Every day, more children are sexually abused and damaged and it could be your child. It is time to act and hold the ISPs accountable for eleven years of disobeying the law and allowing thousands of acts of abuse over their servers.

shaycullen@gmail.com

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[People] The Racism that Surrounds Us -by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Racism that Surrounds Us
Fr. Shay Cullen
4 June 2020

The world is seeing once again the upsurge of a vicious “virus” that has spread to every corner of the world. This time, the “virus” is that of social, cultural, economic, political, institutional, legal, and religious discrimination against people of different skin color, social status, and historical origins. Racism is everywhere and people around the world are on the streets once again protesting against this insidious discrimination following the latest documented murder of George Floyd by four United States police and systematic police brutality.

His cruel death is one of many in recent years where police and killers have seldom been held accountable. Three of the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd are walking free. A culture of invincibility and impunity pervades some police forces that are predominantly composed of white officers. This is common in many countries where the police and military are above the law and abuse authority and kill citizens as they please. It makes a sham of democracy and the judiciary.

People of color in Europe are also discriminated against by racist people who wrongly believe that these “other” humans are inferior to them and who declare themselves to be superior human beings, in a more exalted, dominating status with a desire to trample on others. These racist attitudes that wrongly brand others as having criminal minds have led to the greatest crime against humanity- genocide. The Holocaust, the Rwandan massacres, the Armenian genocide, and many more in history happened because of racists attitudes with other causes.

Migrants and refugees seeking shelter from the Syrian massacres and other social evils meet a wall of racial indifference fueled by systematic racism in some European countries and the present administration of the United States. What the white-skinned racist person or government officials and racist police lack most of all is empathy, compassion, and respect for other human beings. The racists are supremely arrogant, dominating, oppressive, and selfish. They are greatly diminished as persons and have excluded themselves from the community of the good and caring people of the world who love their neighbors.

The roots of racism run deep in history but in modern times ideologies like Nazism and forms of nationalism gave rise to it in Europe and growing racist attitudes are present in European countries today and the United States. Under President Trump, “Make America Great Again” means “Make America White Again.” Racism is not only about skin colour but it is also about power, control, exclusion, and domination. However, the slogan “White is Might and Right” and promoting white people like celebrities and movie stars reinforces racism. The higher social status demanded by some white people can create self-loathing, lack of self-esteem, and an inferiority complex among people of color. Some are persuaded to buy skin bleaching and whitening creams to try and lighten the color of their skin for greater acceptability. The racists have successfully planted their insidious racist ideology and unthinking people have fallen for it. Commercial corporations manufacture racist creams and profit greatly without shame.

More than 13 million Africans- men, women, and children- were captured, enslaved, and transported, chained in horrendous ships, it went on for 400 years in atrocious conditions. An estimated 1.2 million died at sea. Many were thrown overboard in a storm. The movie Amistad released in 1997 tells it well. They were auctioned as slave labor for the cotton and sugar cane fields, coffee and tobacco plantations, gold and silver mining, and then for the industries of the new capitalist America in the making. Besides the Spanish and Portuguese, the British, French, Dutch, Belgian and Danish empire builders all participated in the slave trade.

Racism and outright hatred and human rights violations were part of everyday life for the slaves. Today after 400 years of oppression and suffering and no restitution, naturally, a just anger, hunger for justice, and equality is in their genes. African-Americans are still considered by many Americans as repulsive and racially inferior. In the past, many were murdered and lynched by mobs on false charges. Recently, a woman called police in Central Park to falsely accuse a black passerby of assaulting her because he asked her to put her dog on a leash. She went berserk. He videotaped it. It went viral and she was fired from her job for her lies and a racist attitude. Had police come, he could have been killed, too, like George Floyd. The civil rights movement in the 1960s brought in new anti-discrimination laws but they did not change ingrained racist attitudes against black people. They continued to be discriminated against and many were killed by police.

The ruling elite billionaire capitalists of America are unaware that American wealth and prosperity began with the sweat and blood of the black slaves from Africa. Their racist beliefs in white superiority cannot fully accept that the US Constitution grants all citizens equal rights. No matter how gifted and educated, many of these citizens are excluded from a life of dignity. The election and re-election of Barack Obama as president of the United States angered many racists. Their greatest nightmare was having a highly educated African-American and his intelligent lawyer wife, a descendent of slaves, occupy the White House for eight years.

The White Supremacists believe that his (or her) white skin colour confers on him (or her) superiority over the African-Americans or persons of color. The racists are convinced that the descendants of the black slaves must be continually branded inferior and to be denied an equal respectful place in society. Perhaps racist Americans suffer historical guilt for their cruel legacy of slavery. Every harsh, unjust police act of discrimination, violence, or killing that spreads on social media is remembered by the black community and builds to a boiling point. This is the root of the anger seen today: injustice, lack of respect, dignity, and equality. It is seen and heard in the shouts for justice from the thousands of black and non-racist white protesters on the streets in 57 cities across the USA.

The violence and chaos caused by the extreme left and right factions are criminal and to be abhorred but it is the price that America pays for its historical racism, slavery, and sins of oppression. When there is true repentance, penance, and restitution- true equality and justice for all- across racist America, only then will there be reconciliation and peace.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Child Abuse over the Internet -by Fr. Shay Cullen

Child Abuse over the Internet
Fr. Shay Cullen
28 May 2020

They are the two latest arrivals at the Preda Foundation’s beautiful home for exploited children set in the countryside surrounded by wooded hills beside a small stream. The children are Pedro, 12, and Angelica, 7, victims of online sexual abuse perpetrated by the uncle with the knowledge of their parents. They are now rescued and are happily playing with toys and recovering from the abuse.

They were rescued from an abusive uncle who sexually abused them. He made a video whereby he put his cell phone into his briefs and blindfolded the children and told them to look for it. He videotaped the sexual abuse that followed and uploaded it on YouTube. He was detected and the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) of Region 4A tracked him down and arrested him.

A week previously, three more child victims of cyber sexual abuse were rescued also through the intervention of the International Justice Mission (IJM) together with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the PNP-WCPC. The children were brought by government social workers to the Preda home. The government has no more capacity for the victims and has no commitment to financially support them at the Preda home. They had been sexually abused by their own step-mother in online exposure to Australian pedophiles over the Philippine internet service providers either PLDT/Smart or Globe when arrested. These companies are violating Philippine law by not blocking child pornography and allowing live streaming of child sexual abuse. Soon, there may be international sanctions against them if they don’t obey the Philippine and international laws to protect children online.

The Philippines is a global hot spot of child sexual abuse online. It is growing more severe with the Coronavirus lock-down and restricted international travel. Many more foreign pedophiles are seeking sexual gratification by having children abused live online while they watch. Parents and relatives are the perpetrators and the ISPs that enable it.

The frequency and number of reported incidents of online sexual child abuse have exploded. The US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which operates the Cyber Tipline Report (CTR), has a hotline for cases of online exploitation of children and has recorded 279,166 reports from March 1 to May 24, 2020, according to the Philippine Department of Justice. The number is greater by 264.63 percent or by 202,605 incidents in comparison to the figures recorded at this time last 2019. Then there were 76,561 reports of on-line sexual abuse of small children. This a shocking and disgusting figure of this heinous crime. The NCMEC is a US private non-government agency funded by the US government.

Another study led by the International Justice Mission (IJM) shows that Philippine internet-based child sexual abuse had tripled in the past three years. The study showed that the number of Philippine IP accounts that were used for child sexual exploitation online increased from about 23,333 in 2014 to the whopping total of 81,723 by 2017. So over a three year period, the increase in the number of Internet IP addresses used that shared images and acts of sexual abuse of children increased from 43 per 10,000 IP addresses to 149 per 10,000 IP addresses- a massive and shocking increase in the child sexual abuse of Filipino children.

This evil inclination of the pedophiles and their enablers that are damaging thousands of children shows a serious failure of irresponsible government officials to implement existing laws to protect the nation’s children. The enablers that make it possible are the internet server providers such as PLDT/Smart and Globe Telecommunications. Soon, a new player DITO Telecommunity will be a provider of access to the internet.

The ever vigilant and straight-talking man of action, President Rodrigo Duterte, intolerant of child sexual abuse, must use all his presidential power to protect the children and get the National Telecommunication Commission, headed by Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba and Deputy Commissioner Delilah F. Delesto to explain why the Electronic and Internet Service Providers such as PLDT/Smart and Globe have not installed detection software to block the uploading and downloading of child pornography and online live-streaming of the sexual abuse of children as provided by law.

The NTC was so quick to issue a “Cease and Desist Order” against ABS-CBN for no fault other than the non-renewal of its franchise but how much more important is the protection of little children, some three-year-olds from online sexual abuse about which the NTC appears to do nothing, favoring PLDT and Globe? These powerful Internet Servers PLDT headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan and Globe headed by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala must answer for the child abuse that is happening over their internet servers. Have they “captured” the regulators at the NTC and have an arrangement NOT to implement the clear provisions of the law? Would they lose the revenue of more than 82,000 or even 100,000 paying customers perhaps?

Republic Act 9557, under Section 9, says: “The duties of Internet Server Providers (ISP) to monitor the content passing through their servers notify the police of illegal content and provide the authorities the particulars of users who gained or attempted to gain access to an Internet address which contains any form of child pornography. All ISPs shall install available technology, program, or software to ensure access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.” (See the complete law at http://www.preda.org). The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Republic Act No. 10175 bans cybersex and child pornography, among other things.

What appears to be a collusion between government agencies and the telecommunications companies enables 24/7 access to horrific images of children being tortured, raped, and abused. The pernicious and evil abuse of online streaming of children being sexually abused must be stopped by the NTC and the ISPs. Can President Duterte be the one man that can do it? Who are the worst criminals? They who do it? They who order and pay for it? Or those in the NTC and ISPs who enable it to happen? All three must be held to account and face the sanctions of the just laws.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] Without a Mother’s Love -Fr. Shay Cullen

Without a Mother’s Love
Fr. Shay Cullen
15 May 2020

In many places, people are enjoying the freedom of release from lock-down and so they should in safety and with great care so that they do not infect anyone else if they are asymptomatic. Our lives are changed and our lifestyle has to adapt, adjust, and all in the name of staying healthy and virus-free and they need to survive. With the number of infections going down in some places and going up in others, we can never be too careful as we all want to survive.

On Mother’s Day, we celebrated the love of our good loving mothers. But some children forget the love their mother had for them and I share with you a poem below. The audio of it can be found on http://www.preda.org by this link https://www.preda.org/2020/the-prayer-of-the-prodigal/

The Prayer of the Prodigal
She bore me in her womb, a mother as good as gold
She nurtured me with mother’s milk as I grew so big and strong
And then the years were passing and she was growing weak and old,
I forgot her love and care and I know I was truly wrong

I lost my way and traveled far and still I see her hair
Once a shiny brown that had slowly turned to gray,
I saw her wrinkled features and there was nothing I could say
But to mourn her sudden passing and wish I had been there.

Mother, listen to me cry, my voice is in this song
The corona came and took you and we knew it was so wrong
They didn’t have the things you need, and you were lost to me and all.
The medics tried to save you and risked their very lives
The corona got them too and still the virus spreads and thrives.

I felt so helpless and so alone and wished there was more I could have done,
but all I had was pain and there was nowhere I could run.
Now I see the value of living, good and true,
I promise now to change my ways and take your good advice
Lord, hear me too and forgive me not only once but thrice.

The days have passed me by and peace I now have found.
I kneel and pray and kiss your grave and bless the Holy ground.
Together we will overcome the suffering and the fear
May life return to normal and may your presence be close and near.

Such is the great value of life and yet through neglect and wanton incompetence so many good beautiful people have died because of Coronavirus. They could indeed have been saved but government officials were to slow to respond and react to order immediate lock-downs and provide testing kits and protective gear for the medics. Their first duty is to protect the people. Hundreds of doctors and nurses have given their lives to help and protect the sick and heal them but fell victims of the deadly virus.

Many families have lost their loving parents and to be young and alone without parents is a traumatic experience. The thousands or so children locked inside the Philippines’ children’s jails and youth detention centers, called Bahay Pagasa (House of Hope) have no hope for freedom or a better life. They are arrested and jailed without evidence, trial or hearing for no crime but for breaking curfew or taking food because they were hungry. They suffer imprisonment and physical and sexual abuse in filthy disease-ridden cells behind bars. Now the threat of Coronavirus is waiting on the doorstep and there will be no escape from it. These are the children that we are campaigning for to be released to the parents if they have any alive or to the NGOs that care for such abandoned children.

Added to this long-term, hopeless lock-down is the misery of not seeing their parents. Without a mother’s love children are distraught, lonely, and damaged for life. These children long for their mother’s care, support and embrace. Some are as young as 10 to 15 and are victims of abuse inside the jail cells.

Recently, we were able to coordinate with Fresh Start Media in the UK in the making of a FYI report for Skynews children’s channel on the situation of the Filipino children in jails. The impact of the report is that it is presented by children for children. The TV report will surely awaken and release all the more the goodness and compassion that we believe lies buried in the hearts of the Philippine politicians responsible for the children. They will see the truth and reality for the first time when they view this story. We can all help to bring this truth to their attention by sending the link to the Mayors of Metro Manila: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_96Du7MWaE

And you can send this video message to the Mayors also https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vjHr1lrOAUpxPDUi1GYzVoKT0I3KUQU0.

People ask what can I do to help? Here is a draft letter of appeal that any reader can copy and reword and send in an email to the officials. “Dear. . . There are hundreds of children in jail cells behind bars in overcrowded Bahay Pagasa and Youth Detention Centres suffering hardship and deprivation and in danger of the Coronavirus. We appeal to you to instruct your local social worker to release those children 15 years and younger to the custody of their parents or competent NGOs that will care for them in safety. Please view the video report at this link that shows the situation in some government facilities. Urgent action is needed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_96Du7MWaE

Send your letter to any of the good active mayors:
Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan, sectothemayor.caloocancity@yahoo.com

Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, elo_official@yahoo.com

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, mayorsofficemarikina@yahoo.com

Pasig City Mayor Victor Ma. Reghis Sotto, vicosotto@outlook.com and ewinabeto@gmail.com

They are surely good people and strong leaders willing and able to help the children. They need your support and concern to do good. You can do your share to help the children by joining the campaign “Free the Children Now.”

http://www.preda.org

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[People] We All Want to Live -by Fr. Shay Cullen

We All Want to Live
Fr. Shay Cullen

What do we recall these holy days but the life-giving love and compassion of one person who changed the world by teaching mankind that justice is more powerful than revenge, that compassion is greater than condemnation, that believing in goodness and truth to overcome evil is a power that can change the world. That person is Jesus of Nazareth, truly a revolutionary who worked to convert the nation and corrupt leaders by calling for justice, loving the poor, respecting their dignity and rights. He stood with the downtrodden and for him, the children were the most important of all and women had equal rights. He was rejected by the leaders, despised, falsely accused, charged as a rebel and given the death penalty.

Yet those values he introduced are alive today but are rejected by corrupt leadership. Jesus of Nazareth had a deep conviction in the power of goodness and truth. He taught that people who had conviction and was one in goodness would live a fuller life of happiness and this would change the world. Everybody wants to live, be secure, healthy and happy and avoid death. These dreams and desires are supposed to be made reality by a just government of integrity.

The tragedy of the human species is that so many of the leaders succeed by nefarious ways to get and remain in positions of political and economic power. The bad ones are people of low moral values, devoid of principles and integrity. They despise the weak, exploit them and steal from the public purse to enrich themselves. They silence the speakers of truth; they kill the doers of good. These world leaders are the greatest threat to the well-being of the people and the planet. They lack commitment and concern for climate change. They are devoid of wise and learned action for the common good and bring the people and planet closer to the brink of disaster. So it was in the time of Jesus who called for change before it was too late.

This disastrous failure of leadership today has allowed the latest catastrophic spread of the Coronavirus to every nation, community and parish. It was foreseen, predicted, and a stupefied immoral leadership failed to act. Some leaders and their rich cronies and supporters, in order to preserve their economic wealth and prevent the stock market from crashing, resisted a lock-down. It was a policy of fatalism. “There is nothing we can do,” they said. Let the weak die and create “herd immunity” for the strong. Fatalism is a form of spiritual and mental paralysis, it denies the truth, undervalues people’s lives and freezes decision-making that would have saved many. As a result, death is all around us. Friends, relatives, parents are dying because of the failure of leaders to act in time against the deadly pandemic Coronavirus.

I saw shocking video clips from Indonesia of people in public places convulsing and choking to death with Covid-19 and no one would dare to help them. One brave woman rushed to help a dying woman. She acted on an impulse of compassion and empathy to try and help the stranger. She risked her own life. Who or what motivated her and others to act in a self-sacrificial manner? Patients have willingly given up their life-saving ventilators to others younger and choose to die so that others could live. What motivates health workers to report for work where they could be fatally infected themselves and die?

It is the power that comes from the unshakeable conviction, the belief that goodness and truth will overcome evil. It is called faith. That kind of faith is a true and good conviction that every person is of value, has dignity and right to life. Such faith and belief motivates and empowers people. They are the few who leave their comfort zone and choose to help others. They help others out of kindness, integrity, and goodness. They love the poor and work for justice. People stuck in fatalism and despair cannot act in this way.

Their conviction that goodness and truth will triumph over evil is an inner experience that flows out into action for justice for the poor. It is the unseen immeasurable power of a spiritual experience. It is akin to hope, for hope too is a conviction that goodness will triumph over evil. The world urgently needs such conviction to challenge with courage the despots and tyrants, the money moguls and corrupt captains of industry that oppress and exploit the downtrodden making them refugees, homeless and hungry. The leaders that Jesus wanted were to be believers in goodness and truth that protect, serve and help the poor, the oppressed, the deprived, the abused children.

The world community is facing a catastrophic situation right now like no other in history. Not only is the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world but even more damaging are the deadly effects of climate change. The indifference and apathy of many world leaders and their business partners accelerates deadly climate change that is threatening the human race and bringing the natural world close to collapse. To return to doing the good and taking right action based on faith in the goodness and dignity of every human with the right to a sustainable life is what the world needs. This will bring justice and peace to all. Without such values, evil will triumph and we will face the consequence of a faithless society, devoid of spiritual values, one that is based on selfishness, greed, exploitation, and power.

Yet if enough people unite believing in the force of goodness, the power of loving each other, respecting the rights of all and making it a movement, there will be change. There will be a halt to the pandemic, to climate change, to global collapse of the world economy. We can change the world for the better. We need to believe that we can and that our faith will save us. That is the powerful reason Jesus gave to those who were healed. No one did it. They healed themselves. “Your faith has made you whole,” he said. For doing good and wanting a just and equal society, they killed him, nailed on a cross, a cruel death for an innocent man. He left a meal of friendship. Do this in memory of me, he said, and we remember his powerful message how to change the world. Many good innocent people are killed today for doing justice and believing in goodness.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] A Commentary on the PH National Government’s Response to COVID-19 -by Yolanda R. Esguerra

Photo from PMPI FB page

A Commentary on the PH National Government’s Response to COVID-19
Yolanda R. Esguerra
National Coordinator, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.

Many of us are distraught at the government’s state of response to the continuing challenges of managing the virus spread in our country. We are worried about how slow the measures are being put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

It has been more than two weeks now since the entire Luzon was put in a lockdown or “enhanced community quarantine”. By this time, we had hoped that the entire national structure of government down to the local level have been efficiently mobilized to act together and that a comprehensive, well-thought-out plan is laid down to 1) manage the rising number of infection, 2) protect better its frontliners, and 3) support its citizens who have no means of sustaining their family’s needs as they are forced to stay home for the quarantine period.

But until now, these most important and urgent concerns have not been addressed sufficiently.

Free Mass Testing

Day by day the number of people under investigation (PUI), people under monitoring (PUM), and COVID-19 positive are increasing while the testing of PUI and PUM is slow and can’t keep-up to these growing numbers. Until April 1, we can only manage to test 3,000 plus people compared to our Asian neighbors who have conducted more than 10,000- 30,000 plus covid tests. General Carlito Galvez, Jr. also announced recently that the mass testing will happen on April 14, but this will be too late if and when the lockdown on April 15 will be lifted. Mass testing should be done now.

Protection of Frontliners

The death of health practitioners continues to rise; 17 doctors have died. And even as we honor them for their service, it is depressing to hear the government romanticize their untimely deaths by saying that they’ve died as heroes while performing their sworn duty. Lest we forget that they died because of the government’s failure to protect them. We dare say that an inefficient system killed them.

What adds more to this injury is when you see health frontliners beg and call out to private groups for more personal protective equipment (PPEs) because the government fails to provide. But their ordeal doesn’t end here. Many who have no private transportation must endure long walks to their workplaces despite the free point to point rides provided by the government. Their experience of harassment and ostracism from misinformed citizens.

But the frontliners are not only in the health or medical field. The workers, stevedores, drivers who ensure steady supply of food in Luzon coming from our farmers. The cashiers, baggers and staff in grocery, drug stores and banks, the people manning the checkpoints. They are all frontliners and needing the same attention and protection being equally exposed to the dangers of contracting the virus.

Support for the Most Vulnerable Population

The clamor for food support is escalating. The informal sector like the ambulant vendors, drivers, construction workers who are mostly living in urban poor areas, as well as the middle-income wage earners like the workers in a non-essential industry like shopping malls and restaurant, either, have yet to receive any form of help or have received only once in the span of two weeks from the government, not to mention the numbers of street dwellers and families who thrive on alms and doing menial work for the private and public commuters on the road.

Few Government Leaders as Beacon of Light

True, there are few national and local government leaders serving like a beacon of light and hope to us citizens as they perform far beyond what this government is doing. However, their initiatives have become suspects. They are from time to time haunted by the blind followers of the government who can’t seem to tolerate those who are efficient, innovative, independent-minded, and would not blindly follow orders from the higher-ups. They tend to perceive these efforts as stealing the limelight from them and regarding them as competitors and enemies.

The social amelioration fund that promises P5,000 to P8,000 cash to 18 million low-income families, among the Bayanihan Law’s centerpiece project is in disarray as the authority to disburse was recently removed from the local government. Graft and corruption that abounds in the local governments prompted the transfer of mandate to the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD). Yet, critics believe that the DSWD has no capability to implement it because it has no workforce at the local government level. Thus, up until now, we are still in the stage of drawing up the list of beneficiaries aside from the Pantawid Pamilya list.

To Bear and Tolerate the President

We ask, why the President’s penchant to thank China, forgetting that the spread of the virus was China’s attempt to control the information from going out in the public realm, plus our own government’s dilly-dallying to close our borders from the Chinese which started this menace to spread. Lest we forget that the first case of COVID-19 infection and the first death in the Philippines is a Chinese national.

Suspicious that the special powers asked by the President can make a difference, we are now very disappointed, that in his public report, a week after the so-called Bayanihan Law was passed, the President can only report to the nation that all his powers were given to respective agencies and only two, most specifically on directing business, were left to him, and which he will use only when needed. All accomplishments are in general terms and have no real numbers.

The President’s fondness to use military-police solutions and continuing threats and sermons to the LGUs and the people will not do the trick to manage the situation. The authoritarian style of Tatay Digong will not be enough to manage this crisis. We need leaders with the mettle and skill to unite frightened people into action, not out of fear but coming from an inspired prodding of a firm but a compassionate leader. In this depressing and chaotic situation, we do not need threats but a clear guidance and direction on how every member of this nation can help fight the pandemic.

To address the situation, we request that the following measures be given consideration:
There should be a free mass testing now. As we try to procure testing kits outside the country, we ask that the government invest in funding our own testing kits made by our very own scientists and doctors from the University of the Philippines. The mass testing should prioritize the PUMs, PUIs, Senior Citizens (vulnerable sectors), the medical personnel and all other frontliners – the medical personnel. Workers in the key service sector, military and police manning the checkpoints, and media people. All of them risking their lives every day performing their sworn duty to the people.

The health frontliners including the new 600 health volunteers should be properly protected and cared for. Complete PPE and a halfway house where they can stay near their workplace should be provided, along with a living allowance and hazard pay according to law.

Release of the P200 billion to the most vulnerable groups – the informal sectors and the daily wage earners should be prioritized now. A cooperation of the LGUs and DSWD should provide checks and balances as well as efficiency so that it can reach the beneficiaries the soonest time possible.

Capacitation and mobilization of communities, of health personnel down to the barangay levels should be effected. All barangay health workers should be mobilized, activated and capacitated in monitoring, tracing and care of people with mild symptoms in their barangays. If possible, find a healing place, a center, a house where local or barangay PUI and PUM can be housed. Let barangay leaders conduct house to house education and information campaign to their constituents not only to manage the spread of the infection but also to lessen the social ostracism of those infected, PUIs, and PUMs.

People as the Primary Source of Hope

What stands out and holds us together as a people in the midst of this chaotic situation are the resilient spirit of our people who have endured catastrophes and disasters the past years, the generosity of people and groups who directly help and provide for the poorest communities without asking for recognition, the creativity and small initiatives of individuals to share something to their neighbors in need and the valiant stance of many health frontliners, food production workers and utility service workers to be out of their homes and make lives livable for all of us in this time of crisis. We salute all of you, including those who stayed at home and suspended many of their life’s comfort just so that others may live too.

Thus, we say, that the people in general should not be treated as helpless and weaklings in the face of this pandemic. If people are properly informed and the barangays are properly oriented and capacitated the fight against COVID-19 will not anymore reach our last line of defense, which are the hospitals. Disclose and explain fully to people the dangers we are addressing. Provide them the necessary tools and information to protect themselves. Ensure that they will not go hungry during the quarantine period. Give local community spaces to support each other. We are seeing how people in the spirit of bayanihan have been helping to meet the many gaps and holes that our government cannot provide.

Forward-Looking

Requisites for an Extension of ECQ

The extension of the ECQ should be carefully reviewed and assessed. Another week to ensure that we have accurately traced and monitored possible areas of infection is crucial and important. Ensuring that another wave of infection will not happen again should be a topmost agenda now. However, better planning and execution of support to the most vulnerable groups should likewise be in place when the extension happens or is decided. Likewise, managing and ensuring localization or containment of risks including therefore opening of international flights should be thoroughly reviewed.

Post-Pandemic Shift

Drawing out initial lessons from this experience, we are indeed ill-prepared to fight a pandemic. In 2015 the late Senator Merriam Santiago filed a bill to deal with a Health Pandemic, but this never came to light. Maybe after this episode, we will be able to consider looking into our laws, administrative orders, local ordinances that can address a health pandemic/epidemic like this. We need to strengthen the health care system from the national to local. Currently, the ratio of doctors in the Philippines is 1:33,000 while the world average is 1:1000.

Likewise, we need to re-asses our development paradigm as well. We need to see the connection between the diseases in the way we use the environment for the sake of human development. Scientists noted that most of the diseases are coming from animals and wildlife that we toy with – study or consume as products for the benefit of mankind. When the balance is tilted heavily in our favor, there will be a point of reckoning. And scientists say that it would be fatal to human species in the end. Nature needs to be respected like human beings. The Rights of Nature perspective needs to be examined and integrated in our economic, political and everyday life.

Which brings me to another important point.

The worldwide pandemic also showed us how to live in a new way that can manage the climate crisis we still face today. Scientists noted that with the halt of massive production and air and land transportation, the earth’s temperature significantly lowered. This, however, will not be sustained when we go back to business as usual mode after this pandemic. In the Philippines, the closing of huge malls has definitely reduced the consumption of energy and water and lessen the environmental pollution. It’s as if our environment is also in a quarantine mode, doing some self-organization and self-renewal. One thing that this pandemic made us realize is that we don’t need shopping malls carrying signature clothes, shoes, etc. to open daily, only stores that carry basic needs like food and medicine. A life where basic and barest minimum as the norm is indeed possible.

References:
https://www.msn.com/en-ph/news/national/philippines-lags-behind-southeast-asian-peers-in-covid-19-tests-done/ar-BB11K4U5
https://www.esquiremag.ph/politics/news/miriam-santiago-pandemic-bill-a00293-20200330
https://today.mims.com/doctor-shortage-in-the-philippines–an-analysis
https://www.who.int/gho/health_workforce/physicians_density/en/

https://www.environmentalpollutioncenters.org/shopping-mall/
PMPI is a social development and advocacy network of 250 plus Philippine church/faith-based groups, non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations spread all over the country, in partnership with Misereor, a social development arm of the German Bishops based in Aachen, Germany.

For reference:
Yolanda R. Esguerra, PMPI National Coordinator
Fr. Juderick Paul Calumpiano, PMPI Chairperson

For more information:
E-mail: secretariat@pmpi.org.ph
Contact No.: +639176244327

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[People] What is the Meaning of Life? -by Fr. Shay Cullen

3 April 2020

What a challenging world we live in. Half the people on the planet are cowering inside their homes and shelters. Many are in fear of Coronavirus, too nervous to go out. The poor are hungry, millions are unemployed, the economy is in free fall and people are worried and asking when it will all end. That no one knows. The challenge is for us to embrace the power of goodness, to build up our strength, to be resilient, compassionate, just, caring, sharing and helping each other and strangers.

The threat to shoot to kill the protesting hungry people in Tondo, Manila is totally unjust and would be seen as a crime against humanity. Their need is for food and help to live, not bullets and death. There has been more than 200 billion pesos (US $4 billion) set aside for the alleviation of hunger. It must be shared.

Children and adults are locked in overcrowded sub-human prisons around the world all in danger of mass death from the virus. In the Philippines, hundreds of children 13 years and older suffer abuse and torture in jails. They must be released. Many adult prisoners should be released, too, before the guards have to carry out thousands of infected corpses including some of their own.

Brave doctors and health workers are risking their lives every hour to help save others. Many doctors and nurses have died. They have limited protective garb and know the danger yet they courageously worked on, heroes all for the sake of humanity.

Many died because the government health systems around the world are unprepared. Some leaders are too dumb, ignorant or corrupt to see and understand the danger and prepare a stockpile of protective gear. The simple truth is that this virus cannot be easily stopped, there is no cure and it kills.

There are too few available life-saving respirators and doctors have to make the agonizing heart-breaking decisions whom to save. Will it be the 85-year old or the 23-year old younger patient? One older Catholic priest in Italy willingly gave his respirator to a younger person and the priest died. It was a heroic act of self-sacrifice, may his spirt it live on.

This is a virus that is a monster from hell and all the ingenuity and science of humankind is almost defeated. Everyone must stay as isolated as possible to defeat Coronavirus. Although it is not a living organism but a protein, it needs a human host to replicate itself.

The experts tell us that the virus needs to attach itself to our cells and use the RNA there to pass information about itself to the new round of viruses that are being cloned and multiplying in the human body. The virus is evolving as if it were alive, and likely causes the infected person to cough or sneeze so it can transfer itself to another person. It is clever for a non-living, non-thinking protein. It seems to be similar but smarter than some non-thinking billionaire politicians whom we hope will not replicate themselves.

There is no known reason or purpose why it exists. Why does anything or anybody exist in the first place? Is there any purpose to it or life itself or none at all? Some say there is no purpose, we just are. Yet we and all life exist on a tiny speck of a planet in a vast universe among millions of galaxies. The universe, scientists tell us, came into existence from a big bang, an explosion of energy apparently from nothing but at that infinitesimal millionth of a second all material matter came into existence. That’s some amazing true story. And we came from that. The universe of which we are an intimate part of (although insignificant) is vast, endless, existing for no known reason. Does there have to be a reason at all and can something come from nothing is the question.

What is human reason anyway, did it evolve as the ability of the human species to be self-ware, to think and to then know that we exist? As the philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” But what if we don’t think, don’t converse with ourselves, what then is the purpose of existing?

In a less philosophical frame of mind, we may recall Coronavirus came from some people eating wild animals, like bats, and other exotic wild creatures in a market in Wuhan. Well, the Chinese government has to stop all that illegal trade in animal parts that is destroying the animal kingdom and human lives. Some authorities there are accused of trafficking in human body parts, too. They execute prisoners without just trials to harvest their body parts for medical operations.

Coronavirus is a non-living protein yet a seemingly almighty invisible force that has brought every nation to its knees, making millions sick and causing death. Is there no positive virus or protein that can lift up the human species and improve its value of life with strong moral values and principles?

Some believe that there is a spiritual power that can motivate people to choose the good, live a moral life, love truth, honesty and justice and to care for strangers in need and treat them as friends. It is the gift of belief in a supreme intelligent being that is the ultimate cause of the the universe and the big bang and humans. To be in close union with this Supreme Being, the universal force of goodness and love is happiness. That gives purpose of all life, especially human life.

In these days of great challenge and dramatic life changing events, we can survive the Coronavirus and be happier if that universal force of goodness and love is with us and we are with the force. That will be enough for anyone of us to self-sacrifice and give our respirator to someone younger than us.

http://www.preda.org

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