Tag Archives: Olongapo

[People] Searching for abused children and Yolanda orphans. By Fr. Shay Cullen

Searching for abused children and Yolanda orphans
By Fr. Shay Cullen
Mobile No: Sun +639228768621, Globe +63 917 627 4910

Immediately after the typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the strongest typhoon ever to hit land on 8 November this year, I wrote an article titled “The Lost Orphans of Yolanda” on 12 November in the knowledge that the children without parents are the most vulnerable to abuse, abduction, malnutrition and human trafficking. Hungry children go wandering off in search of food their parents cannot provide and you see them at city street corners begging and asking strangers for money.

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That article on the orphans was based on the initial report that as many as ten thousand people had been killed by the storm surge and high winds and flying debris. The confirmed death toll has reached 6,500 dead and more bodies are uncovered as the debris is gradually removed. It was expected that there would be many homeless, hungry and orphaned children. They tend to be overlooked in the chaos that follows a great storm or disaster.

It was published in several newspapers and online and flew around the world via the internet and seemingly had its desired effect to alert the agencies, government and non-government agencies helping children in the disaster area of Yolanda to be on the lookout for homeless and abandoned orphaned children. Preda Foundation cares for almost 90 children in residential care and fifty in after care and did not have the resources for an immediate relief response until donations began arriving. Then we immediately set off to the disaster areas to assess the damage and the needs of children and learn how best we could help.

The article seemed to ignite a flurry of concern and press releases and stories about the dangers these vulnerable children faced. This may have had a preventive educational impact, I hope so. According to the DSWD Regional Director Bonoan, no orphaned children have been found, and none came into her Manila based evacuation centers. Preda social workers worked there and did not find any orphans there either. However, there are three posters appealing for information about missing children, one as young as 3 years old. Likewise in the Cebu evacuation center which we also visited, none were found according to the officer in charge. In Tacloban, reportedly there were none either, other than one family of five taken by the Council for Inter-county Adoption to an orphanage in Quezon City.

However, with 6500 people dead, it’s highly unusual that no children have been found homeless and orphaned. Perhaps relatives have taken them into their care already as informal fostering and undocumented adoption is customary. Perhaps, the fact that local government is so overwhelmed with so many other problems, they cannot cope or even know if there are orphaned children being sheltered by other families. The greatest concern is the vulnerability of boys and girls to local pimps and recruiters and foreign paedophiles disguised as government officials or charity workers.

Kandy is a 15 year-old victim of human trafficking from Samar. Before the typhoon, her parents fled the poverty and brought her and her sister, 20 years old, to Metro Manila but left them with an auntie and returned to Samar. Her sister Karina was lured to Limay, Bataan, a port, and she was ensnared in a videoke sex bar. The recruiter trafficker then texted Kandy inviting her to come and work in a bakery, she was given advance money and then to pay it off, she was forced to work in another sex videoke bar at Pexsite. Intimidated and scared, she went and was offered as a live-partner to a Korean. She ran away from this sex-slavery but because of debts, she had to go back to another videoke bar. A concerned citizen texted Preda’s hot line and within two days, Preda social workers and legal officer rescued her. She is finding a new life of dignity now at Preda home for trafficked girls. The Preda legal officer filed the criminal charges. The trafficker was arrested and is facing arraignment in Balanga, Bataan, Regional Trial Court.

Many people may know of abducted or recruited children or see trafficking or abuse happening but are afraid to report it or have no one to trust to whom they can safely and anonymously report it and get immediate action. What Preda Foundation does best is immediate response and through its highly trained personnel, it can do undercover surveillance and research on the one hand, and give public community training to develop awareness and trust in communities and empower women and children to report human trafficking and abuse of any kind through texting to the hotline mobile number +63 917 532 4453. The one utility back on in most disaster hit areas is the mobile phone systems.

Besides giving relief foods and seeds to farmers, we need to give this public education and empowerment training seminars to parents and youth on the dangers of falling for the offers of traffickers and spread the message through radio, seminars and puppet shows and distribute information cards with the contact information and hotline number.

This way, the people knowing about trafficked children or adults can report it without fear of retaliation or threats. It’s important to involve the local officials and train and hire local youth to take on the preventive educators’ job and continue the empowerment and information project. The feedback to the Preda coordinator of any trafficking or child abuse will be met with an immediate response. The hotline number for reporting trafficking or child abuse of any kind is +63 917 532 4453. We can make this a better world for children at risk.

Donations: Preda Foundation, Metrobank, Rizal Ave., Olongapo Bank Account 144-2-14403962-3, Swift code MBTCPHMM

shaycullen@preda.org , http://www.preda.org
Mobile No: Sun +639228768621, Globe +63 917 627 4910

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.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] The First Christmas. By Fr. Shay Cullen

The First Christmas
by Fr. Shay Cullen

When I was growing up, Christmas was a lovely childhood story of the baby Jesus born in a clean looking stable surrounded by his loving parents in clean robes, singing angels, adoring shepherds, kings holding gifts and harmless adoring animals. Yet in reality, it was a hard, cold, miserable time for this impoverished couple, who were like refugees and soon became such, with almost nothing in the world as they fled the killer King Herod to Egypt. They were most likely overwhelmed by the cold bitter weather and hunger like the refugees from the conflict in Syria today, fleeing the cruel “King” Assad. They have only hovels and nowhere else to live. No singing angels for them.

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In the Philippines, hundreds of thousands are suffering deprivation like that of Jesus and his parents as they struggle to survive in the ruins caused by the greatest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines. It will be a tough and hungry Christmas for them who still survive under plastic sheets and with relief handouts. With the wind, rains and devastation came another storm – human exploitation and trafficking of the victims and orphaned children.

In the evacuation centers that I visit with a Preda relief team, we see posters showing the photos of 3 to 15 year-olds mysteriously gone missing, most likely stolen and sold. Five children were rescued from traffickers by government social workers. A team of foreigners were bringing the children to Manila for so called “good jobs” but likely for sexual exploitation.

Reggie is a teenage boy whose village was wiped out, flattened by that storm named Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines). He and five others were offered jobs on a big fishing boat by a rich merchant. They took the chance and they worked for weeks on the fishing boat and were then dropped off on land, unpaid and abandoned. They lost their dignity and wages. Reggie lost his freedom too. He was found wandering the Manila streets and imprisoned with youth accused of crimes. That’s where we found him and got him freed. He will have a happier Christmas at Preda but over a million will not.

For many true Christians, Christmas is the most important feast of the year. It celebrates the inalienable rights and dignity of all humans. Jesus of Nazareth brought these rights into the world, lived them and taught them. His birth, life, and death were a turning point in the history of the world. The human rights of the poor, the oppressed, the victims of violations, the landless, and the hungry were proclaimed in his sermon on the mount.

The rights of children were established when he said that children were the most important in the Kingdom of God, whoever accepts them accepts Him. He introduced a new era but it has taken two thousand years for these rights to be truly respected, implemented, and defended. Christmas is the time to re-establish these values and rights in our hearts and minds, in our families and society.

Christmas is time too for family reunions, sharing of gifts, symbols of life and friendship. It is a time for renewing bonds and strengthening our spiritual values, and reflecting on the mystery of life.

Easter is equally important, it celebrates the triumph of good over evil, life over death, the weak over the powerful, death and resurrection; it also has the painful story of the suffering, torture and execution of Jesus of Nazareth, a good and loving man, Son of God, Son of Man, friend to all, Messiah of the downtrodden and the oppressed. That is a painful, but powerfully inspiring story.

Yet the Christmas story of His birth, the outcast family, poor and homeless, a child born in a cave or a hovel with animals and impoverished peasants, is for many people, more special. It celebrates caring and love, friendship and family. It’s inspiring too that in such poverty, God brought about the birth of a great spiritual leader and teacher and prophet destined to challenge the ruling elites, defy the oppressors of the poor and bring values into the world that would change it and turn it inside out.

Jesus from Nazareth, a child from nowhere, became the greatest teacher the world has never forgotten despite many trying to deny, ignore and quash those values and rights. We must defend them to the end. Each of us can rediscover this great truth and experience the meaning of Christmas by renewing our faith and finding our spiritual strength to act to save the exploited, the abused and the hungry.

I thank all the good people who have supported the work at the Preda center here in Olongapo city and have donated generously to the appeal for the survivors of the typhoon whom we are helping by bringing relief directly to them. May all have a blessed and holy Christmas.

See photos on http://www.preda.org, photo gallery
Email: shaycullen@preda.org
Donations for Preda/ typhoon victims.
COLUMBAN FATHERS c/o St.Columban‘s, Widney Manor Road, Solihull B93 9AB.
or Columban Fathers, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co. Meath

or send donations to Preda Ireland:
Permanent TSB, Dun Laoghaire ,Co. Dublin, Ireland
account number 87930352, sorting code 990604,
swift code IBPSIE2D, IBAN IE251PBS99060487930352

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.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] Eyewitness account of the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda. By Fr. Shay Cullen

Eyewitness account of the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda
by Fr. Shay Cullen

I flew into Cebu City, an hours flight from Manila and drove with two Preda staff starting 3 am to visit the northern towns of Cebu Island on Tuesday, 19 November. The goal was to reach Daanbantayan, Bogo,and Bantayan Island to assess the storm damage, visit their communities and understand the situation so as to know what the needs are and to deliver aid donations directly to the people in need. The other equally important goal is to spread awareness about the need to protect orphaned children from would-be abductors and traffickers posing as relatives.

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After two hours driving, we entered the disaster zone and the glimmer of lights in the houses disappeared and we drove in total darkness brought on by the typhoon Haiyan. It is a total blackout and power lines are down everywhere. The moon gave an eerie sense of isolation. The remains of houses stood silhouetted and gave the appearance of a war-torn, bombed-out battle field. These were once home to over a thousand families and are now a scene of desolation and ruin. As the dawn light touched the horizon, the specter of devastation became all the more apparent and I began to realize that I was witnessing storm destruction and personal loss to millions of people. Recovery will take many years.

As the sun rose, I saw a bleak landscape of toppled power poles, once proud towering Acacia trees stripped naked of branches and leaves shamefully naked in dark outline against the dawn sky. Hundreds of tough coconut trees snapped off mid section, a rare sight of these typhoon hardened trees yet cut in half by a wind that reached unprecedented gusts of 240 kilometers an hour. Mango trees were toppled, their roots upturned to the sky, totally vanquished the remaining leaves dead. I was appalled at the extent of the destruction; only the strongest houses of the rich were left standing. I felt awe that all this could be done in the space of two to three hours as the ferocious wind and rain storm swept over the land alike a scythe in a field of barley cutting down all before it.

I have been through ferocious typhoons during my 44 years in the Philippines but have never seen or experienced anything like this for the sheer savagery of this destructive force of nature. The gigantic force of the wind churned and turned everything it could to flying debris, smashing and tearing at everything, ripping roofs apart and carrying the metal sheets, rafters and roofs into the sky with such force that even cinder block walls collapsed before the onslaught.

Then we arrived at Daanbantayan and were surrounded by wreckage. We met people, listened to the survivors with compassion and were awed as they recounted their terrible ordeal fearing it was the end of the world and were in the jaws of a devouring monster.

The survivors told me that the coconuts were ripped from the palm tops and fired like cannon balls smashing into roofs and walls. Their children were frightened and cried as the wind screamed and howled about them and the noise of debris smashing into the trees and roofs was terrifying there; food supplies were destroyed, and the water wells contaminated.

We then drove to the ferry and took a one hour sea crossing to Bantayan island. There, we landed at Santa Fe, and witnessed more damage and destruction of homes and businesses. The churches had roof damage, yet the greatest damage was in the main town of Bantayan and the coastal area. We took a tricycle and went there. Along the way, we could see more damaged homes and buildings. The poultry industry was wiped out.

We met the Mayor and were impressed with the fast clean up, order and discipline in the town. “We saved many lives”, he said, “we ordered a forced evacuation of the fishing villages, the fisher folk were unwilling at first but then they agreed and were saved”. We have had only 16 dead but many were injured, they lost their fishing boats”.

The following day back in Cebu, we witnessed the resilience, courage and bravery of the many Filipinos that are rising above the tragedy. We met Anna and Jose in an evacuation center in Cebu. Jose is positive, hopeful and holding his new born baby that arrived during the evacuation flight. But Anna was sad and forlorn thinking of her missing father lost in Tacloban and likely dead. They put on a brave smile but underneath there was deep sadness. We discussed with officials the need to seek out unattached or orphaned children and document and register all especially orphaned children. We will send Preda social workers there to continue this work in all the evacuation centers.

The relief work goes on. Preda has donated rice and other goods to the victims and is working with the University of San Carlos, Cebu to deliver relief aid to the many victims. We thank the donors who are contributing to this work. Preda is also building awareness to protect orphaned children at risk. Every help is welcome. See photos on http://www.preda.org gallery, Email: shaycullen@preda.org.

Donations: via paypal (donate@preda.org, predainfo@gmail.com) or in pesos to Metro Bank Rizal Ave., Olongapo city with acct. no. 144-3-14452916-3 or euro donations to Preda Ireland in any Permanent TSB Branch, account number 87930352, sorting code 990604, swift code IBPSIE2D, IBAN IE251PBS99060487930352

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.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] Saving the victims of human trafficking by Fr. Shay Cullen

Saving the victims of human trafficking
by Fr. Shay Cullen

She was only 14 years old when brought from a distant town, and she was lured into a relationship with a middle-aged American and became his live-in sex partner. He called her “Chocolate”, a racist term.

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In a conversation with reporters from ABC Television New York using a hidden camera, he told them how he got his 14 year-old “Chocolate” so he can “do it” anytime he wants and if she doesn’t like it he can throw her out and get another. He set up a sex bar named “Crow Bar” in Calapandayan, Subic Town, and there he had other underage girls trapped as sex slaves controlled by Lulu, the “Mamasan” (manager) and recruiter.

The trafficked young girls are given advance payments, loans, and threatened with arrest for not paying their debts so they can’t leave the sex bar. They are sold to foreigners of every nationality and sexually abused. The Preda Foundation social workers and undercover paralegal professionals investigated the Crow Bar and verified the facts that there were underage children there and called in the authorities to arrest him and the Mamasan. With the NBI and the US ICE agents, a raid was carried out to rescue the children and arrest the suspects. The video report is on http://www.preda.org video gallery named “The Raid”.

Many more trafficked children and youth could be saved from sex slavery and more bars closed if the Philippine government was serious in stopping the trafficking of the young girls and close down the sex trade by canceling operating permits and licenses given to these foreigner sex bar operators. Huge bribes are allegedly paid to get an operating permit.

It’s the worst kind of living death to be a victim of sex slavery. Now cyber-sex is expanding. Small rooms with internet connections and cameras can show small children forced to strip naked and act out sexual fantasies ordered over the internet by pedophiles and paid for by credit cards.

A recent research project in the Netherlands showed a computer generated image of a 10 year-old Filipina child available for contact in an internet chat room. As many as 10,000 men from 65 countries tried to get her to perform sex on camera that they could watch. Full report on http://www.preda.org, courtesy of Jubilee Campaign UK.

These images of naked children on the internet chat rooms arouse their sexual desires to abuse real children in their own countries. It’s a warm up for sexual assault on children even their own children. As a result, incest is spreading too. Preda social workers rescued a 3 year-old girl raped and infected with gonorrhea by a relative.

The local and international pedophile demand of cyber sex shows it is a grave danger to children in the Philippines and everywhere. The pedophiles pleasure themselves while watching before going child hunting. When the Preda child protection and rescue team applied for funding to church and government agencies it was met with silence or excuses. No funding for that. The rescue and campaign work is funded by the sale of dried mangos. We thank our Preda fair trade partners and supporters.

In the Philippines, the internet service providers and government regulating agencies are supposed to implement the law blocking such images but they have spectacularly failed to implement the law. It’s corruption of the worst kind. It’s likely most of these officials go to church every Sunday posing as pious parishioners.

It’s an evil that caters to the depraved men and plagues societies everywhere. The trafficking and sale of children for sexual exploitation and slavery is a worldwide crime and practice. It’s an estimated $32 billion business every year. 2.3 million children are abducted, lured and forced into brothels, sex bars and cyber-sex dens and child porn studios annually.

It’s rampant in the Philippines due to the widespread poverty, corrupt practices by police and prosecution. Many Philippine government officials are mired in corruption and no interest to help except set up well paid committees with huge budgets staffed by cronies. The President who has positive successes is honest but appears helpless against such entrenched apathy.

This modern slave-trade will go on indefinitely unless we can persuade government to have good moral governance, respect and protect children and women’s rights and dignity and the Mayors are not giving permits and licenses to sex bars and clubs .The citizens of the sending countries must know that these sex tourists get in an addiction to underage sex and return to their country addicted and will abuse more children there. It’s not a problem far away but right in every country in the world. Email shaycullen@preda.org, Mail to P.O. box 68 Olongapo city 2200, Philippines.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] The living and the dead By Fr. Shay Cullen

The living and the dead
By Fr. Shay Cullen

In the Philippines, death is accepted as a part of living, to be coped with as inevitable, postponed if possible; grief is short lived but memories are for life. The cemetery on All Saints’ Day is a thriving celebration of life and family. On November 1st, there are gatherings around the family tomb with prayers being said, rosaries recited, thousands of lighted candles flickering and lighting up the gloom and casing all in silhouettes. Plastic flowers, picnics, singing and card games long into the night until dawn. They all pack up and go home when the vigil is done.

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The rich live and die separate, apart from common humanity in life and in death. They have medium sized enclosed tombs to massive mausoleums, the poor have a simple cross or a white painted tomb, the size of a coffin made of cement blocks. It is the time when we are called to remember the living and the dead. Dying is the painful end of living.

I have been in private cemeteries where peace and quiet reigned. I was surrounded by headstones, each summed up the life and death of people in a few short words as if they had never done anything in their entire lives. It was a lonely, sad and very solemn and reverential place, invoking what we fear most – death, and what unknown fate that awaits us beyond that final moment, if anything.
Yet the dead live on in our consciousness, in our memories and on a headstone, a marker with words lies, perhaps declaring to all the world, that they loved and were well loved, even if none of it is true.

The good people who died and who were loving and lovable true friends, parents, brothers or sisters, a hero perhaps, we can grieve for them, and recall the lost love, the once happy smiling face, the warm embrace that we can feel no more.

The great loss taken away by death are the days of fun and happiness that many shared together and were snatched away by untimely, tragic, painful, sudden or prolonged dying. It continues to wrench our hearts with the pain of loss and the reality that we too must die.

When we visit the grave side, we recall the missed opportunities to forgive, to ask forgiveness, to reconcile and make peace, to tell someone we loved them but were somehow blocked. We regret the time we did not go to them and hold their hand and care and help them. Death takes away all chances to make amends.

If we have cared and helped them, did our duty, loved them and supported them, then we have no regrets, we can smile and be content, be at peace with ourselves and them and smile knowing we were true and faithful to them. Their death holds no regrets for us.
If we failed them, we can repent and weep for them and for ourselves. Death is real, but we try to make it unreal, to gloss over the painful truth that one day we too will die and be no more, or will we?

Then we will ask how we lived, what can we leave behind? We can ask was it a life lived for ourselves or for others. Have we served or been served, have given or have taken, to have kept or to have shared. Did we love and were we loved?

Life for most is precious, something to cling to, marvel at, rejoice in and enjoy to the full, sustain and protect and prolong it. To live a good life helping others is the most worthwhile of all and then we are always ready and content to face death.

For most people, it is much better to be, than not to be. So the wretched of the earth, the poorest of the poor, the so-called worthless outcasts, branded as burdens of society, living out impoverished painful lives still want to live. They have hope of better days to come.
The irresponsible and unrepentant rich can suffer from the thought of impending death and a guilty conscience after a selfish life with little help given to others in need. They too can repent and give back to the needy and make this a better world before they leave it.

It is compassion, love, and forgiveness of a heavenly Father that formed the heart of the message of Jesus of Nazareth. We can never know what the afterlife is, but if we believe, let it be based on a loving relationship with eternal goodness. Contact shaycullen@preda.org, Write Preda center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] Indigenous people struggle for their rights By Fr. Shay Cullen

Indigenous people struggle for their rights
by Fr. Shay Cullen

The leader of the community of the Aeta indigenous people proudly led me around the hillside resettlement community where the 200 or so families were establishing a new village community. Their ancestral village and lands were wiped out in a torrential typhoon and gigantic floods. My mission, helped by the German Church agency Misereor, was to help them resettle and develop basic organic agriculture, coffee, coconut, and mangos.

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As I walked the hillside, I passed dozens of small grass-roofed huts with walls of bamboo matting. Vegetable gardens and the newly planted coconut seedlings, mango saplings and coffee stood witness to the hardworking nature of these people who were once forest nomads. Their mountains are now denuded and covered with tall cogon grass. I saw how they are replanting the trees and reclaiming their deforested ancestral lands. Their days of hunting and gathering are long gone because of the massive non-stop logging of their rain-forests during the past sixty years by the greedy logging companies of the ruling elite.

Only when there was about 3 percent of the forest left and the best land had been grabbed by coconut and palm oil plantation corporations did the government ironically granted by law these indigenous people their “rights” to their ancestral lands, hills, and mountains but they were already stripped bare and greatly reduced in size. They are more reservations rather than ancestral domains. That bill that was passed was in 1997, Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) was passed after decades of campaigning by Filipino environmental and human rights groups and international pressure. It gave them nothing what was not already theirs by ancestral right.

The laws are just worthless sheets of paper without rule of law and the political will to implement them and a corruption-free judiciary. In the Philippines, the law is what the authorities say it is, something to ignore, circumvent, manipulate to their own advantage. It’s a game to cheat at, a way to get super rich and a weapon to use against their opponents.

So the logging and the land grabbing of the indigenous communities continues to this day. It has grown worse since the demand and prices of minerals have soared to incredible peaks in recent years; extractive open pit mining has become the latest cruel curse to descend on the villages of the indigenous people.

The government and their business tycoons, in partnership with international mining conglomerates, have passed mining laws that in effect run roughshod over the rights of the people and their ancestral lands, and give the mining corporations, managed by their friends and relatives in cahoots with international corporations, permits for the extraction of minerals: black sand, gold, silver, nickel, chromite, copper ore and many more valuable minerals that rightfully belong to the people.

Then waving pieces of paper meaningless to the people, the bulldozers begin to rip out the last remaining forests, excavate hills, pollute the rivers and drive away the people. Many thousands have been displaced and turned into refugees surviving in squalid centers.

Paramilitary groups like the Bagani hired to protect the mining sites have been armed by the military and allegedly secretly paid by the Philippine cronies of the multinational mining corporations. They are uncontrolled and are accused of assassinating dissidents, protestors and sympathizers and leaders of the threatened communities of indigenous people.

Father Fausto Tentorio, an Italian missionary of the PIME missionary society was well loved for his peaceful support and advocacy for the rights of the indigenous people who call themselves Lumads. He supported them in North Cotabato but was considered a threat by the mining interest in the area. One morning 17th October 2011, while leaving his rectory to go to the villages, two men on a motorcycle rode up, stopped and the one on the pillion fired repeatedly killing him dead. No one has been investigated or arrested.

Fr. Tullio Favali of PIME, of the same mission, was also shot and murdered for supporting indigenous people in blocking a logging company from ravaging the forest. Many pastors, social workers, and community organizers have been tagged as communist rebels and executed in a similar way.

After taking an active stand in support of the striking sugar workers at the Hacienda Luisita owned by the Cojuangco-Aquino family, the Most Rev. Alberto Ramento, Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church in the Parish of San Sebastian, Tarlac City was stabbed to death on October 03, 2006 when assassins broke into the rectory.

The communist inspired New People’s Army move into these areas supposedly to defend the rights of the people but instead the people are caught in the crossfire as the army go after the communist rebels waging a 45 year long insurgency.

In February 2013, on Boracay island, the tourist beach for international and local tourists, community organizer Dexter Condez was gunned down while on his way home from a community meeting with the Ati indigenous people. The Ati people have been driven off most of the island by land grabbers. It was his mission. He was the parish worker defending their rights. He too gave his life for them.

This is the most authentic mission in life, being a true Christian by helping others especially the downtrodden and asking no reward other than the privilege to be a follower of the Man from Nazareth. Taking a stand for them is to stand with God.
contact shaycullen@preda.org, write to Preda Center. P.O. Box 68. Olongapo City 2200.

[People] A story of one girl’s fight for justice By Fr. Shay Cullen

A story of one girl’s fight for justice
By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Here is a story that will gladden the hearts of all who care about children, abhor child abuse and are willing to speak out for human rights. It’s a story of a child’s courageous struggle against all odds. People of good conscience who shun evil and wrongdoing will hunger and thirst for justice and someday, if we struggle hard enough together, we have a greater chance of finding justice than if we stay silent and do nothing.

So it was for 14 year-old Martina, she sought justice. She grew up in an impoverished family in Olongapo city not far from the sex industry where young girls are lured and trafficked into prostitution and captured by the bar owners of many nationalities. It had a bad influence on her father.

Her mother, Maria, suffered leukemia and her father was unemployed and did part time jobs for a living and got money from relatives. Without a regular job, the family could not pay for health insurance. The medical system is so privatized and medical help is so expensive, the poor cannot survive even common diseases. There is no social insurance or a national health care system in the Philippines.

Maria wasted away and died and left Martina alone with her father who turned to smoking marijuana and took to visiting the cheaper sex bars. He met young enslaved teenagers there and became addicted to abusing the young girls. The drugs made him aggressive and moody and one night, he attacked and raped Martina, his own daughter. She was shocked, hurt, and traumatized.

The corrupt political practice of condoning and allowing a thriving sex industry run mostly by foreigners who prostitute young girls with impunity has eroded the moral values and corrupted family and community life.

Most child rapists terrorize their victims with threats of torture and death if they tell anyone. Martina was threatened with death by her father. She endured the abuse in silence and he, believing his terror tactic was working, raped her several more times. Unable to endure it any longer, Martina ran away to her material auntie in Taguig, Metro Manila.

Her auntie noticed her traumatized state and gently asked her what had happened. Martina cried and found the courage to tell her auntie. She told the most difficult thing of all – she was pregnant. Shocked and angered, the Auntie filed a criminal complaint against the father. The police filed the charges in Olongapo City and the social workers from Taguig called the Preda children’s home hot-line to refer Martina for counseling, shelter and therapy. She was welcomed into the Preda Home for sexually exploited and abused children and felt at home with the other forty children and the Preda professional staff.

The Prosecutor Joy Bayona quickly acted and resolved the case and filed it in court on 5 May 2011, and when the accused did not appear to answer the charges, an arrest warrant was issued. He went into hiding, it took many months for Preda paralegal workers to find him and have the police arrest him. During this time, Martina, still under care at Preda, was brought to a special clinic and gave birth to a normal healthy baby boy.

By 20 October 2011, five months later, the arraignment was set in the family court, Olongapo city. It was postponed and reset for 3 November 2011, then postponed again; Judge Pamintuan being absent. After two more postponements, the arrangement was finally set on 25 May 2012; one year after the arrest warrant was issued.

The wheels of justice having stopped a few times began to grind again with all the supporters of Martina pushing and shoving. The abusive father pleaded not guilty. The case dragged on and more delays were made. It is a common legal tactic hoping the child would give up and fail to appear as a witness, the case could then be dismissed. Martina would not give into the pressure to give up. She feared that many more children would be abused if he went free and he might harass or attack her again.

There were eight more postponements with months between the settings due to various reasons. Then after some lobbying by Preda Senior staff to the court administrator of the Supreme Court, Judge Bautista was appointed to assist Judge Pamintuan. He took on the case of Martina. The accused was advised by his counsel to plead guilty to a lesser charge and he was found guilty on three charges of rape and was sentenced to ten years for each charge which is equal to a life sentence.

The Preda paralegal officer, Marlyn Capio requested the judge to consider the plea of Martina to have a barring order issued so that if ever he got out, he could not pursue her. Judge Bautista did so.

This week, the case ended a long protracted pursuit of justice and the end of the rampage of a serial child sex offender. Martina is a survivor, healed, supported and empowered by her courage and brave pursuit of justice and truth. Martina is reintegrated to a happy family. The child is healthy and well. [shaycullen@preda.org; http://www.preda.org]

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[People] Supporting the good, honest NGOs by Fr. Shay Cullen

Supporting the good, honest NGOs
by Fr. Shay Cullen

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These days the good name of non-government organizations (NGOs), church charities and people’s organizations in the Philippines have been dragged into the mud and disrepute by the corrupt acts of politicians who used fake NGOs and charities and even government agencies to launder stolen public funds entrusted to them for poverty alleviation and development projects.
The generalization of the media in referring to NGOs as being the channel of stolen government funds may give the public a wrong impression as if many of the thousands of civil society organizations were involved when only a small number of fake NGOs and charities were set up specifically to launder the public money into the pockets of the corrupt politicians.

We have to take a stand for the good, upright charities, and non-government organizations of civil society and their human rights defenders, social workers, priests and pastors and church workers who have given themselves, risking their lives for the poor and the exploited throughout the Philippines and have not been involved with dirty money offered by politicians.

The media must be sure to use the correct vocabulary and name the fake, false and corrupt shell organizations as “fronts for corruption and skullduggery” or similar terms to distinguish them from the honest, dedicated, good organizations helping the poor. Media must take care not to carelessly and inadvertently use the term NGO indiscriminately lest they wrongfully brand every charitable organization as part of a criminal conspiracy.

It has been revealed that there are many corrupt politicians who got lump sums of public funds for development projects and allegedly set up fake agencies, charities and non-government organizations through their business cronies. They even used many municipal governments to launder the public money released to them for development and poverty alleviation and hunger relief projects.

The crony opened a bank account in the name of the fake organizations, deposited the funds, and then withdrew a big percentage of the money for themselves and gave the bulk of it back to the politician. The most hurtful aspect that has angered millions of Filipinos who marched by their thousands last Monday in protest, is that the crooks are multi-millionaires already. Their overwhelming greed is like an addiction and it has caused great hunger and poverty. The “March of Millions” in the Luneta Park that began last Monday was to protest and to stop the “March of Millions of Pesos” into the bank accounts of the politicians and their cronies and demand the lump sums hand-out to the members of Congress be abolished.

This is the very reason that the Preda Foundation Inc. that I began 38 years ago never took donations from politicians or from big businesses in its long history serving exploited, impoverished and abused children, indigenous and poor people. Instead, we challenged and demanded accountability from them and were met with hostility, threats, and even closure of our children’s centers and deportation.

Instead, this charity is semi-self reliant and has partners that conduct strict monitoring and audits every year, the most recent of which is an “unqualified audit report” wherein everything is accounted for properly. Well managed charities and NGOs in the developing countries will have strict accountability audits and scrutiny by their supporters and partners. They need to have positive and successful “outputs” and narrative reports to justify the funding. Here is one child’s positive victory of the many successful outcomes among the hundreds of children helped by the Preda charity in past years and other genuine charities will have similar positive results. (www.preda.org)

In the case of Diane who was 14 years old when her father, himself a policeman, very likely influenced by the impunity enjoyed by sex tourists began to use her, his own daughter, as his sex slave and subjected her to repeated acts of rape for almost two years.

The child ran to relatives but they were unwilling to support her and help her escape from the father. This is a cultural weakness that allows so much child sexual abuse to continue. It’s a culture of fear, shame, and cover up for fear of the abuser.

Diane wanted the abuse to stop and to find justice and in desperation she turned to her teachers and government social workers in Valenzuela, North of Manila and then they called in the Preda Children’s home for legal assistance, shelter and recovery for Diane. If not for them working together with the Preda Foundation, this horrific abuse would have continued that could have driven the child to suicide. It’s just one case of many.

Despite the danger from an aggressive and violent abuser, the Preda Foundation social workers helped her escape to freedom in the Preda children’s home in Olongapo City. There she overcame the trauma, shock and depression and she found the courage to file a legal case against her father despite the opposition of her mother and relatives. Judge Nancy Rivas-Palmones of the Valenzuela family Court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Good things do happen and the many thousands of good NGOs and charitable institutions are saving hundreds of thousands of children from abuse and hunger where the politicians and government agencies despicably fail despite helping to launder stole public money. Let’s keep the truth out front and support the good, honest charities out there, they are not perfect but most are not corrupt. They have dedicated church workers risking themselves to save the children and victims of human rights violations. shaycullen@preda.org ,www.preda.org P.0. Box 68, Olongapo City 2200

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[People] The return of US bases to the Philippines by Fr. Shay Cullen, Mssc

The return of US bases to the Philippines
By Fr. Shay Cullen, Mssc

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Subic Bay, Philippines – After 44 years working for human rights and social development in Olongapo city, the former home port of the US 7th Fleet, I have seen the futility of using military violence to solve political and territorial problems. The Korean, Vietnam, and Middle Eastern wars were launched or supported from here. The massive loss of human life and destruction makes war untenable. The return of the US marines, navy and air force to the Philippines will not advance a peaceful negotiated settlement of the sea dispute between the Philippines and China. It’s like calling in the neighborhood strong man to threaten a school yard bully. Dialogue is better and wiser than the threat of violence and confrontation especially when the US has no intention to carry it out. A non-enforceable threat fizzles out like a damp squib. The so-called negotiations between the Philippine government and the United States for “rotational” US troop deployments here to oppose Chinese expansionism make little sense. It will be a basing agreement which is unconstitutional. There must be another hidden purpose.

The Philippine government made the correct move in taking the dispute over the occupation and claims of China to Philippine shoals and islands to the United Nation, bringing in the US military as a threat will not help. What the Philippines needs to do is to summon up its courage and stand up for itself to China, the bully boy of Asia, and shake off its colonial dependency on the United States to rattle its sabers at every incursion of Chinese ships.

If the Philippine government officials will take an independent, non-violent stand to defend its sovereign territory in the strongest words possible, it will win international respect and cooperation and there will be a worldwide protest and outcry against the aggressive occupation and claims of China to Philippine territory. Rushing to hide behind the iron skirts of Mother America is shameful, an indication of moral weakness and an unnecessary embarrassment for the brave Filipino people who can fight non-violently for their rights.

The one thing that a proud nation like China wants to avoid is the shame and criticism that might be heaped on it by the world if it persists in its baseless claims to Philippine territorial waters. It has to protect its “face”, that aura of dignity and honor that it believes it needs to convince world opinion that it is acting in a right and just way when in fact it may not be. It’s time for China to back away with dignity and “save face”. World opinion is a mightier weapon than US warplanes and ships.

China will want to show to the world that it is a responsible member of the international community and not be dubbed a predatory, aggressive, sea-grabbing nation. This negative incursion into territorial waters will damage its credibility in Africa and South America where it is trying to win friends and spread its influence. When international criticism and the ire of nations grows and less trade is the result, it may all the sooner relinquish its baseless claims to Philippine territorial waters and shoals. No amount of oil and gas resources buried beneath the waters will be worth international repudiation.

China will not be intimidated by a show of force anyway. As a proud, ancient civilization, one of the oldest on earth, they know that the US will never be so foolish to resort to threats of military violence or engage in conflict on behalf of the Philippines. So the increased presence of the US military will not frighten China, only increase its resolve. Political action on the world stage by the Philippines and its supporters is the way to resolve this problem.

It was long argued if the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US covered such disputes as occurred over the Spratly Islands, and the US made it clear at that time it was not bound to act in such a dispute. US Military assistance is only offered if the Philippines is attacked. So why is the US so eager to come back to the Philippines as part of its “pivot” towards Asia, what’s in it for them?

A more realistic purpose for the return to bases in the Philippines is to position troops, drones, planes and ships in proximity to areas where militant Islamist organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda are active. Resurgent groups in Mindanao, Indonesia, Malaysia could pose a threat to American interests and for the US to have the capability of a fast response to present and future threats is an important advantage. The closing of 19 US embassies recently is an indication of the level of that terrorist threat and the Philippine bases are an ideal location for propositioning US forces to counter it and at the same time guard international sea lanes from pirates. The recent bomb blasts (including the first car bomb) in Philippine cities could well be the response of the jihads to this planned return. The Filipino people will be the first to suffer.

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[People] The young leaders of today are the hope of tomorrow By Fr. Shay Cullen

The young leaders of today are the hope of tomorrow
By Fr. Shay Cullen

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The incredible courage, bravery, and dedication of young people is what the world needs to inspire and lead us into the future. Malala Yousafzai is a striking example of the capability of the youth to give the good example where adults are failing. Her speech to the United Nations ignited the hope and activism of youth around the world.

Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban assassin because she was such a powerful determined advocate of the universal right to education. She shows just how influential young people can be if only we listen to them and allow them to have their role and to take the lead at times.

The adult leaders, parents, teachers politicians, and the general public should realize that there are great youth leaders and youth groups who are giving their time and energy to saving the planet, helping the hungry, the oppressed, jailed children and they are campaigning for one important cause or another. They need the encouragement and support of the adult world because they deserve it; it’s the right and good way to educate and develop good positive and caring character and personality in youth while growing up. The youth are the leaders of the future and they will take on the duty and obligation to support the passing aging generation.

What they need to grow strong and mature, besides healthy food and education, is for their inner self to be nourished with spiritual values. These are positive attitudes, relationships that cannot be bought at the supermarket such as trust, respect, affirmation, inspiration, encouragement, good example, security, emotional support, affection and friendship.

A nation is judged by the way it cares and nurtures its children. How very true this is. Parents, teachers, and authorities in general ought to put aside the age old practice of asserting negative authority over young people. The youth are filled with a desire to be acknowledged, respected, and encouraged in their activities and not to be scolded, judged and chided for youthful enthusiasm, immaturity, and mistakes. We all make mistakes so tolerance, understanding, patience, and forbearance is what adults need to have towards them. Then they will learn to overcome human frailties as they grow to maturity.

Given that encouragement and respect, they will become advocates of the good and beautiful just as Malala has done. Her parents are also to be admired for giving her the opportunity and support in her pursuit of education and the rights of all to go to school in the face of threats and intimidation.

It must be seen that these youthful heroes are striving to do good for all and what greater good is there than to sacrifice for the well-being of others. The young people of the world have these surging desires and hopes and must be allowed to exercise them with trust and as team work with adults.

Openings must also be made, to give as many as possible opportunities to express themselves in the arts, music and theatre. Self-expression is essential for young people to come to a sense of their own self-worth and value as a human person. They reach that through the opportunities provided to them by the adults in their lives.

There is the Filipino Akbay Theater group supported by the Preda Foundation. Over the past many years, group after group have trained, practiced and performed their musical drama to near perfection. They are passionate and dedicated to inspiring and enlightening the audiences about the social realities of life of young people. They use this as a form of self-expression and an educational tool that appeals to the heart, emotions, and minds of the audience.

They spend hours and day in preparation for their local and international tours across Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. There, they have inspired many people who moved to tears and came to an emotional and mental awaking. Then, with their own, real characters formed on this commitment, most carry it over to lives of virtue. They have honesty and integrity as strong-minded servant leaders. When they marry and have a family, the same life-enhancing virtues of loving, care and sacrifice for their wives, husbands and children is clearly apparent.

The volunteers at Preda Centre, Olongapo, Filipinos and from several nationalities, are the model of youth in action. They are living out their belief and faith in a greater eternal force of goodness and love. The Gospel message of the good Samaritan is uppermost in their hearts and they want the opportunity to make it a reality in their everyday lives. These are the youth leaders of today and the best hope of good leaders in the future.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

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[People] The mission is to end poverty and injustice by Fr. Shay Cullen

The mission is to end poverty and injustice
Fr. Shay Cullen

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Muff, Co. Donegal near Derry, Ireland – A gathering of returned missionaries at the I.O.S.A.S Center (Island of Saints and Scholars) recalled the long tradition of Irish missionaries leaving families and friends and going to foreign lands for life to bring the Gospel message of God’s love and to build up the community of justice and faith. Hundreds of Irish missionaries lived and worked among the poor and oppressed and brought education and hope to countless people in the Philippines and countries all over the world. Many stayed with the people through war and pestilence and gave hope and help.

Several were like Jesus of Nazareth; reviled, betrayed, imprisoned and some were murdered. Why did they do it?

Missionaries going to the developing nations during the past sixty years and more have been shocked and appalled at the extent of hunger and poor farming methods and the inequality and exploitation of the small farmers. Many saw the need to help the hungry to feed themselves. They began helping them with economic development projects, human rights advocacy for the oppressed and brought improved methods of food production. The goal was to help the communities to become self sustaining and to produce more nutritious food and emerge from poverty. The Gospel calls all to share and bring equality and justice to all.

In the world today, there are one billion people suffering from a lack of food and go hungry. Early childhood hunger is the most damaging to a nation. The children are stunted and they suffer brain deficiency and cannot learn and do skilled work.

They ought to redirect their fund towards changing the priorities of local governments so that they will invest more public funds and resources to helping people be empowered to help themselves. Many officials are irresponsible and seek to enrich themselves. This means that a portion of development funds should be directed to the human development and social education of local government officials so they are aware of the law and their duties to implement it. They need to be sensitized and dedicated to the dignity and rights of the people they are elected to serve.

All too often under the noses of local officials, trafficking of people is rampant. Women and children are the people that are neglected and fall prey to the recruiters and pimps that come to traffic, lure and trap them into prostitution with false promises of providing jobs with high pay. Breaking the cycle of poverty and the trafficking of the poor is one of the mission goals of the Preda foundation, I told the audience at the IOSAS centre.

Mission is to strive in many ways to make this a more honest and just world for the poor. All of us should be on mission. Everybody is called to be involved and put our faith into action for the poor. Otherwise as St. James writes, “Faith is dead without action”.

It also means changing political and economic and even the military situation to bring peace, justice and the protection of children from traffickers, sex tourists and abusers. I began my mission many years ago in Olongapo city, the port of the US Navy 7th fleet and the brothel city of South East Asia. There were dozens of street children and prostituted children, others struggling to survive having been abandoned by their American fathers and left to a very uncertain future. The mission I undertook was to save as many as I could and change the cycle of poverty and exploitation.

I set up Preda foundation to provide a home and education and therapy so they could have a life of dignity; hundreds have been rescued from jails, brothels and abusers. Others have received an education and employment through the foundation. It continues today. After a ten-year campaign to close the military bases and convert them into economic zones, they were closed, and today as many as 120,000 are employed at Clarke and Subic.

Today, part of that mission is to change the negligent attitudes of local and national government and to establish more democratic ways to bring the people into the decision making process so that policies are made and implemented to better the lives of the people and end corruption.

The G8 states and the smaller nations can help change this situation greatly by linking foreign aid to the people’s participation and progress made by local government in respecting human rights and alleviating poverty and protecting women and children. We can all help in our own way. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org; Post to: St. Columbans, Manor Hill Road, Solihull, West Midlands, UK.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

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[People] The G8 environmental report says coal plants are the worst of all By Fr. Shay Cullen

The G8 environmental report says coal plants are the worst of all
By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Dublin and Northern Ireland. The shocking revelation that environmental damages caused by economic activities like coal plant electrical generation and mining is costing the global economy as much as US$4.7 trillion a year. The report released last 15 April was commissioned by the Group of Eight economic powers and the United Nation’s Environmental Programme.

The G8 nation’s next meeting is at the Lough Erne Summit, June 17-18, 2013 in Northern Ireland. The grim facts of environmental degradation are causing worldwide economic loss and that means greater poverty and health problems.

The loss to the world economy by environmental destructive economic activity is greater than the wealth generated. The short term benefits are mostly for the rich while the environmental damage hurts the poor. The study calculates the impact of air and water pollution, health costs, the damage caused by climate change due to global warming and the destruction costs of deforestation, the rise in ocean temperature and one hundred other impacts.

Coal fired power plants do the worst damage to the environment and the economy. The negative impact and damage is so grave that it negates any economic benefits that the electricity generated helps create. The damage in East Asia alone, including the Philippines, causes economic losses to the costs of $452.8 billion. The wealth generated is only $443.1 billion causing a net loss – that’s bad business for the world economy.

Those who claim that we need to suffer some environmental damage to generate wealth, progress and development are wrong. It is now proven that the losses are greater than the benefits.

It’s not often that environmental protectors and campaigners get good news and have victories in protecting the health of citizens and protecting the environment. Recently, a Philippine court ruling set back the construction of a coal fired power plant on Subic Bay after intensive campaigning against it.

In the Philippines as elsewhere, a real democratic political system does not work to protect the greater good. It benefits the few rich. The so-called economic boom in the Philippines is only for those already rich. The value of their holdings and stocks are rising. So it is really an oligarchy, not a democracy. This court ruling has revealed a dent in that armor of invincibility of the ruling elite. Once-in-a while, a judge is independent of their influence.

State employees are usually beholden to their political masters who appoint them and the energy industry and these politicians are frequently in cahoots with each order. Former industry businessmen get elected and invited by the President into the cabinet. They see that the interests of their masters are protected and enlarged. They get political protection and permits to pursue development projects that are detrimental to the environment.

There is nothing new in that arrangement. Keep the poor poor so they will take the money to fill empty stomachs during election time and the rich can elect themselves. The recent election in May has proven the point. Arnold Padilla on http://www.preda.org made it clear that the business people and the political elite are one and the same. Dozens of rich politicians from ruling families made fake parties, a legal right reserved for the poor and the marginalized. These members of ruling families had their fake party approved by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the Supreme Court and bought enough votes to get themselves elected to Congress and there they can work for the benefit of the rich.

The classic place to see this link up in action is the power plant application project at Subic bay. RP energy, a consortium of Philippine and foreign tycoons, some inner sanctum members of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the government agency (SBMA) in charge of the Subic bay industrial complex had petitioned the court to reverse previous court rulings saying that the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) permits they issued to RP Energy to allow the coal fired plant to be built were invalid.

Their appeal for a reconsideration of this ruling was recently denied by Associate Justice Celia Librea-Leagogo. She denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the DENR, RP Energy, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). The planned 600 megawatt coal fired power plant due to be set up at the Redondo peninsula on Subic Bay is now back to square one. The people in the Olongapo city and surrounding area are happy with this. But RP Energy will be in cahoots with the government officials to get the permits. But community acceptance is not possible.

In all nations, people of conscience and concerned for the well-being of people and nature are challenged to renew efforts to reduce the environmental destruction going on all around us. Every issue is important. Since my recent column, “The Fishing Wars”, the EU has finally made a binding agreement with member nations to abide by the strict quotas and banning of bad practices of throwing millions of tons of non-commercial fish back to the sea dead. Lobbying and speaking out can bring positive change and a healthier world. We are stewards of this beautiful planet; it’s the only one we got. There is nothing much on Mars.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

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[People] The silenced screams by Fr. Shay Cullen

The silenced screams
By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Rachelle, when she was just 13 years old, suffered in silence and isolation. Like most children in the world, she turned into herself and at that young age, having being certified mentally challenged with a mental age of a 9 year-old, she felt totally helpless to change or prevent what adults more powerful and knowledgeable did to her. The cruel injustice done to children and every victim of abuse is endured individually, alone, suffered one by one in secret and silence, separated, with hardly anyone to help her. The pain is buried inside; it seldom finds a collective voice, marches on the streets, a champion, a defender and a moral warrior ready to take on and battle for her against the powerfully corrupt and the cruel, the uncaring with the cold hearts of stone but pockets lined with gold.

If only every injustice suffered by countless children came together in one great cry of anguish and anger at inflicted hurt and abuse, then every leaf on every tree would be blown away, every stalk of rice or wheat would be torn naked of their grains. The outpouring of human anguish, pain and anger would blast away the corrupt and the ignorant, the apathetic and indifferent, the conscienceless, those numb and incapable of compassion to the hurt in others. It would rise up in revolution and topple a regime, conquer an empire, down a tyrant. But the empires of human indifference reign supreme like tyrants over the lives of little children and all they have is a silent scream.

So it was for Rachelle and countless other children who are made to endure and suffer rape and sexual abuse so as the deviant adult abuser can satisfy his selfish sexual urge. To stop, prevent and end such evil acts, there is the mighty law to render justice for Rachelle. But did it?

Rachelle was led to believe by her mother and her 27 year-old abuser and his family that to become a live-in sexual partner of a man twice her age was her lot in life. According to them, it was right for her to be raped daily and if he hurt her and gagged her screams this was love and it was therefore right and good. The prosecutors in Malolos, Bulacan, sworn to uphold the child protection law, to save the dignity and rights of all from rapists and childhood murderers, agreed that it was love and therefore there was no crime, no wrongdoing and if there was criminal liability of the man then even the parents would be charged. But there was no crime, it was “love” they ruled.

Then they wrote and signed their legal decision of 9 October 2012 that said in effect, if the parents and the man say it was love, then it must be love and no reasoning or no law can say that such sexual acts are wrong or unjust. There is no case to answer, they concluded and rounded it off with a poetic idiotic senseless quotation: “Indeed, the heart has reason of its own which reason does not know”, they said.

The facts of the case points to the rape and multiple sexual abuse of a mentally challenged 13 year-old girl (call her Rachelle who is now 14 years-old with a mental age of 9 years old according to a government psychoanalyst). However, the statement of the child is clear, coherent. She described plainly what was done to her by her neighbor, a 27 year old man. The medical evidence is clearly showing multiple sexual acts. The mother of the child (impoverished and abandoned by her husband) protested at first, the family of the accused made an agreement with the mother (money was given most likely) for the child to be allowed to live-in with the accused. A local government barangay official in Calumpit, Bulacan approved. The barangay witnesses (according to the prosecutor) said the little girl and the 27 year-old were in love and the prosecutor wrote that it was like a marriage rite even though minors are not allowed to marry, but still, it was not a crime. But Preda Foundation social workers heard of it and intervened to rescue the child, take her into a safe caring and healing community and file the charges.

But the prosecutor was not impressed with the arguments that it was rape, sex slavery and child abuse. No! They said, “if the accused were to be held criminally liable then the parents would be accomplices and this should not be case” and “it is improper and baseless to state that the respondent took advantage of her minor age”. Finally, in a contradictory conclusion, the prosecutor wrote: “The absence of the elements of rape and even child abuse being apparent probable cause does not exist”.

Then the prosecutor recommended to the 2nd Assistant Prosecutor and to the Provincial Prosecutor that the complaint of the child be dismissed and so it was. But it is wrong and it protects the accused in the face of overwhelming evidence of probable cause, this is the common harem done to child victims and to the cause of justice and the nation. Preda is Rachelle’s champion and we are protesting this miscarriage of justice and we are sure more mature legal minds will agree to reverse the decision and send it to trial. There are thousands of victims every day and their silent screams go unheard and unheeded.

Act now to help children like Rachelle escape abuse and get justice. Contact Preda Center, P.O. Box 68, Olongapo City, Philippines. shaycullen@preda.org
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

Need Help, Contact: predainfo@preda.org (please do not send email to predair@info.com.ph and/or preda@info.com.ph as these email addresses are no longer the official email addresses of Preda)

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Physical Address: PREDA Foundation, Inc. P.O Box 68 Olongapo City 2200 Preda Main Center Upper Kalaklan, Subic Bay Olongapo City 2200 Philippines

E-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, emmanueldrewery@preda.org

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[From the web] Eyewitness: A New Dawn in the Philippines thru PREDA Boys Home

Eyewitness: A New Dawn in the Philippines thru PREDA Boys Home.

By Sophie Newsome, edited by Jim Luce. Olongapo, Philippines
August 14, 2012

The Jeepney’s engine is roaring up the streets that tie up the hills of Olongapo.  I am commuting to the PREDA Boys’ Home – a Social and Human Development Center.  PREDA is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) that has been active in the Philippines for 38 years.

The Boys’ Home, also known as Bukang Liwayway (BL) meaning “dawn” in Tagalog, is a rehabilitation center for boys currently ranging from 12 to 19 years old.  There is an average of 48 boys per year at BL.  These boys have been rescued from jails, the streets, drug use, or harmful family dynamics.  Most of the boys were imprisoned and accused of committing crimes ranging from theft to murder or rape.  With the help of PREDA paralegal officers, 70% of the boys’ cases get dropped.  Because children are easy targets they are often framed to appease victims.

Fr. Shay Cullen, is an Irish priest who co-found PREDA.  His journey to help the people of the Philippines started in 1969 when he came to the Philippines as a missionary.  On February 22, 1974 PREDA opened its doors to street children, children from jails, and children with family problems.  PREDA eventually expanded to help fight against the sex trafficking, physical abuse, and sexual abuse of children in the Philippines.  There are currently 88 Filipino professionals who help run PREDA along with volunteers from around the world.

I arrive at the large and beautiful Boy’s home in Nabagayan, Castillejos.  The building feels inviting and free with large windows to let in the fresh air– sweetened by grass and rain.  The building is on an organic farm with a small stream, fields, and hills surrounding it.  The boys learn to work on the farm and fish in surrounding waters.

“There are no guards or gates at BL.  If the boys want to leave, they can.  We build trust with the boys, and most of them stay.

Read full article @ www.preda.org

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] The Presidential Mining E.O by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Presidential Mining E.O
by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Presidential Executive Order (EO) outlining the administration’s policy on mining is something to be welcomed as it shows a positive concern in protecting sensitive ecological areas that could be adversely affected by mining, especially the horrific open pit-mining that rips out the heart and soul of mountain-sides and forests, and does untold ecological damage. The EO has positive aspects. It reasserts the provisions of existing laws that protect the environment and ancestral lands. The good will of the presidential order may not be strong enough to combat the age-old tyrant of good laws and good will, namely corrupt officials embedded in the political dynastic system that makes its own laws.

While the Presidential Executive Order expanded protection and declared 78 areas “no-go” for mining, it may be unenforceable as some powerful corrupt government officials especially in Mindanao, are ignoring and defying the existing law. They continue to illegally issue exploration and mining permits to mining corporations in the ancestral lands of the indigenous people where cronies of past governments, even those of the Marcos’ era still hold the power.

The EO re-enforces the mining law, RA 7942, known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Under its provisions, the officials of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are strictly forbidden to entertain mining applications for exploration, mapping and any kind of mining in old growth or virgin forest, proclaimed watershed areas, forest reserves, wilderness areas, mangrove forests, mossy forests, national parks, provincial or municipal forests, parks, green belts game refuge and bird sanctuaries, as defined by law and in areas expressly prohibited under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, (NIPAS) under Republic act No. 7586, Department Order No. 25 series of 1992 and other laws.

Ancestral lands of the indigenous people are strictly no-go areas for mining unless there is clear and explicit public approval, social acceptability and informed consent after consultations. It says: “No ancestral land shall be opened for mining without the prior consent of the indigenous cultural community concerned”. Despite these strong laws, the DENR and other government officials have become puppets and sided with the rich and powerful. They have wrongly and illegally given permits for them to operate, no doubt for certain unknown considerations.

The Subaanen people, whose lands and those lands of hundreds of thousand Visayan people on the Zamboanga peninsula have been invaded by mining interests; have stoutly and bravely resisted the incursions of mining companies. For fifteen years they have peacefully protested and made it known that they do not approve mining on their lands but have been ignored. Their lands are targeted for open-pit mining and since 1997; one company after another has sought and obtained mining rights in their lands specifically on Mt. Pinukis and its neighboring mountainous Medau area. The final report on Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Priorities published in 2002 states that the status of Mt. Sugarloaf, a Conservation Priority Area covering an area of 87,963.43 hectares is of extremely high criticality. They have filed legal cases against these officials and most recently a shocking court decision allowed the mining companies to join the court case in support of the government officials.

The Supreme Court granted the people a protection order, an order to the companies to cease and desist, (Writ of Kalikasan) but there seems to be no power that can implement it.
It is in places and situations like this, one of thousands, where the environmental crises of the planet become practically evident. It is here where the irresponsible corporations will violate people’s rights waving an illegally obtained paper, and use that to engage in destructive gauging and environmental plunder.

The American and European laws forbid wrongdoing of this kind. Prosecutors ought to look closely at these operations where their corporate citizens are violating human and ancestral rights. Court cases ought to be taken by NGOs in the countries where the mining corporations are domiciled in order to bring them to justice and save hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime lands and forest.

People around the world ought to take a stand, make their voices heard and write to President Noynoy Aquino, Malacanang Palace, and Manila supporting the rights of the poor, the farmers and the indigenous people.
Contact:
Fr. Shay Cullen PREDA Foundation, Inc. P.O Box 68 Olongapo City 2200
Preda Main Center Upper Kalaklan, Subic Bay Olongapo City 2200 Philippines
E-mail: predainfo@preda.org or visit our website at http://www.preda.org

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Physical Address:
Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org

SEND US DONATIONS: You can now send us donations Online via PAYPAL. Please visit our website.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

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] The brave non-violence of the Subaanen people by Fr. Shay Cullen

The brave non-violence of the Subaanen people

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Some thousands of indigenous people all over the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, especially the Subaanen people, on the Zamboanga Peninsula have struggle for years to stop mining corporations from moving in to explore and mine the mountains and hills. They are victims of corrupt government officials and even judges who are captivated by the vested interest of the mining industry.

Some Indigenous people are sadly being forced to turn to armed resistance as the mining corporations move into their lands. The Subaanen people have remained steadfastly non-violent and turned to the rule of law and trust in the constitution to protect them and their rights.But is it enough?

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of ancestral land has been threatened by the illegal and corrupt acts of some officials of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Allegedly some of these officials are not on the side of the people in Mindanao but are for the rich and powerful mining interests and the banks that fund them.

They allegedly enrich themselves by giving mining permits to companies over ancestral lands which is forbidden by law. It is at this level in the provinces where the anti-corruption campaign of President Aquino is weakest. He has deposed a former president and a chief Justice but not yet the corrupt officials in Mindanao. While the president is dedicated and honestly trying to clean up the stinking garbage of corruption he cannot seemingly oust these entrenched officials, the henchmen and women of powerful political families.

They do not have allegiance to their department cabinet secretary or the president. In fact they are ones who defy the president and are the hardest to get rid off. The presidents political allies could be behind the corrupt practices that is opening the way for the illegal logging and issuance of mining permits. They are pushing the president to override the provincial governments bans on open pit mining. He must resist this pressure.

Mining companies that get a permit to explore and mine also get a logging permit for the cutting the trees in the area alloted to them for mining. This is totally destructive and is a way around the presidential ban on logging which goes on unabated. Just drive through Mindanao and you will pass twenty or thirty huge trucks hauling cut logs. I have seen them myself.

For many years the Subaanen people and their supporters have stood peacefully for their rights courageously and bravely to stop the local dynastic families and their cronies in the International mining industry from mining their ancestral lands. The Subaanen have been non-violent and trusted the democratic rule of law to save them.

Their breakthrough cam in August 2011 when the Supreme Court of the Philippines granted a Writ of Kalikasan (A protection of nature) to the people to protect the environment of the whole of the Zamboanga Peninsula. A Writ of Kalikasan is a powerful legal remedy under Philippine law which provides for the protection one’s right to “a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” as provided for in Section 16, Article II of the Philippine Constitution. It protects one’s right for a healthy environment against damage of such magnitude that it threatens life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. But the government officials are ignoring the Supreme Court order .

Bishop Jiminez and three other bishops and an archbishop signed a letter to the London based shareholders of the mining company RTZ-CRA trying to get the officials to stop the mining and logging wrote to the shareholders.
In part he letter said; ” Š…..Since the company has the right to expatriate all the profits, you, the shareholders, will probably earn some money. However, many of our people who own the lands where all the minerals are ,will become paupers. Our rivers and seas will become polluted, our mountains will become deserts and our ricelands poisoned. Our forest birds and animals will become extinct. The very existence of the Subaanen, a gentle and beautiful people will be put at very high risk.”

This must not happen ,we must do all we can to see the rule of law prevails and justice is done and corrupt officials are ousted and permits cancelled. shaycullen@preda.org

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Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.
e-mail: preda@info.com.ph Website: http://www.preda.org
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PREDA Information Office
PREDA Foundation, Inc.
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Need Help? Contact:
newsletters@preda.org

Privacy Policy:
We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us is only available to employees managing this information for purposes of contacting you or sending you emails based on your request for information and to contracted service providers for purposes of providing services relating to our communications with you.

Physical Address:
Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org
SEND US DONATIONS: You can now send us donations Online via PAYPAL. Please visit our website.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

 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.Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] A Sustainable Life of Dignity, Rio+20 by Fr. Shay Cullen

A Sustainable Life of Dignity, Rio+20

by Fr. Shay Cullen

My faith is greatly challenged when I look upon the earth and the ongoing destruction of the beautiful valleys, hills, rivers and forests. Does the Lord of the Universe allow the ravages of mining, river pollution, reckless forest destruction, the depletion of marine life and destructive greed?

No! Humans with free choice decide and cause it all. The run-a-way over-consumption that drives economic growth is unsustainable and the UN Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro this June is one of the most important this century as it attempts to persuade the world leaders and industry to turn to more sustainable energy, clean the planet and provide a decent life for all their people.

The first summit in Rio twenty years ago called world attention to the polluted planet and global warming and its impact on all life on earth. Future generations will be greatly affected by the environmental destruction around us today. Coal and oil burning power stations are pumping out deadly gasses that not only cause many diseases arising from the dangerous chemicals CO2, mercury, uranium that they spew out, they also create the greenhouse effect. The drastic changes due to human activity and unhealthy life styles will soon become irreversible.

The greenhouse gases, accumulated over a hundred years in the upper atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels are acting like a blanket around the globe, increasing temperatures will threaten life as we know it. When the planet’s temperature reaches a tipping point, there is no turning back, we can’t cool it. That point is fast approaching. Climate change will be irreversible.

The warming will get worse and melt more of the arctic permafrost and release billion more methane into the atmosphere. The ice caps are melting already and ocean levels rising as a result. Low-lying coastal areas will be devastated. The ocean currents will be affected too and will have a catastrophic impact on climate.

Hunger is spreading due to devastating floods in some places and droughts in others. West Africa is experiencing a great food shortage due to lack of rain, Australia had years of drought then devastating flooding. If this sounds like doom and gloom it is. Is this the future that we want? This is the question poised by the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Can humankind work together to turn to a more sustainable form of energy production like solar, wind power, small scale hydropower and geothermal and reduce over dependence on burning fossil fuels? Can we correct the unjust gap between the rich few and the billions of poor?

For the past two hundred years it has been believed that economic growth and non-stop production and consumption are good for mankind. But what a fallacy that is. The drive to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and call it the measure of success and prosperity is vastly over rated. It is a false unjust, exploitative and destructive economic model. There has to be a limit to wild uncontrolled economic growth based on greed, consumerism and selfish prosperity. It has led to unrestrained desires and wants and excessive borrowing has plunged much of the developed world into recession and stagnant growth.

That may not be entirely a bad thing. Millions are unhealthy from eating junk food, two-thirds of the United States population is overweight, even obese. The US armed forces will not have enough recruits that can march and fight wars. National security is at stake as a result of the hamburger and sugared drink. There must be more to life and happiness than possessions and money. People obsessed with getting rich have forgotten how to love, have families and help their neighbor. In Japan, couples are having more pets than children. National survival will be at stake there too.

Now that the borrowed dream has turned into a nightmare there are street riots demanding free handouts and an end to austerity. The days of unending state and welfare benefits are great reduced. They have to live on less but are still way better off than the billions of poor people that barely survive on a dollar-a-day without jobs, water, food, fuel, homes and security.

What needs to be developed is reverence and respect for every other human being, the earth and all living creatures. This is what the summit in Rio will try to promote. The earth cannot endure unrestrained growth and environmental destruction that it brings. The only economic growth that is good, right and just is when the environment is protected and all humans can have a life of dignity where in the their basic needs are met and happiness is a spiritual experience. What we need is a spiritual revolution, a global change of mind and heart that will establish the inalienable rights of all to a life of justice free from basic needs in a clean planet. END
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Physical Address:

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org

SEND US DONATIONS: You can now send us donations Online via PAYPAL. Please visit our website.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/newsitems/a-sustainable-life-of-dignity-rio20/

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[People] The Greatest Freedom by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Greatest Freedom

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Independence Day celebrates political and economic freedom from the domination and exploitation of foreign powers and the establishment of a sovereign nation. It ought to be the freedom to build a country filled with patriotic fervor that cherishes its independence and sovereignty. A most exciting and joyous day of the year but in the Philippines it is not greatly so.

Filipinos openly acknowledge the political realities. They are free from the tyranny of a dictator yet true independence is an illusion. The greatest freedom eludes them. They are not free from poverty, hardship, injustice and the fear of hunger and even assassination when they speak out for justice and against the corrupt politicians. Retaliation with an assassin’s bullet to the brain is swift and deadly. Priests, pastors, social and political activists are all victims of such a sudden death. As many as 72 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1992.

The nation is captive, held by the shackles of poverty forged by the powerful ruling oligarchy of the rich elite that masquerades behind the mask of democracy and with the well funded military, their faithful protector. The people stoically endure it with satirical humor and resignation since there is no viable alternative other than violent revolution and people power. That has been tried and failed.

The well funded political clique manipulates the elections so that the dynastic families stay indefinitely in power and increase their riches to stay in power. Sons and daughters follow their fathers and mothers, uncles and cousins into political office and appoint their extended family members to positions of power and influence.

The same families shamelessly rule towns and cities and hold congressional seats for generations. They feud among themselves and some commit mass murders and violent massacres like the Maguindanao massacre of November 2009. The suspect Ampatuan dynastic families are accused of being behind it. Murdered were 57 members of a rival political family and 32 journalists. The brave man Esmail Enog, who testified in court against the suspects, was recently found dead, chain-sawed to pieces. The only sure freedom from hardship and suffering is death. Even so the congress, dominated by the wealthy families will not pass a law banning dynasties as the constitution demands, careful not to hasten their own demise.

So the 93.3 million Filipinos are ruled by a few hundred wealthy families in cahoots with foreign industrial interests. They allegedly control or own 70% of the national wealth and live luxurious lives while millions live in slums and dire endless poverty. Hundreds of thousands of young girls and children are forced to work; many are trafficked to the slavery of brothels and bars.

The congress, with the inspiring exception of the progressive social democrats, is filled with millionaires who serve the interests of their corrupt class and exploitative industry. This includes the foreign industrial powers who covet the mineral wealth and raw materials of the nation.

They are politicians who voted recently to change the child protection law and imprison 12-year-old children. This, in violation of international law and the convention on the rights of the child. They really need an education on human and children’s rights. They punish children for being homeless, poor, emotionally disturbed, unschooled and hopeless. This is a national situation the politicians themselves have made. Children are branded criminals and made to suffer jail for the greed and the crimes of adults.

The flash points of discontent and protest all over the nation is rooted in the fact that the rich political families still own the prime land and resist land reform. Last week hundreds of marching protesting farmers called for the implementation of land reform law.

The indigenous people demand their rights to their ancestral lands and to ban mining and environmental destruction. The mining companies extracting minerals on their lands are the cause of great unrest and injustice. They too, yearn for real freedom from the encroaching land grabbers and logging families that are ripping apart the last remaining forests. Millions of Filipinos want a quality education, a secure job near their homes and family, and prosperous healthy respectful life. Exile in a foreign land is the only justly paid employment for millions of Filipinos

The hope of the people is for President Nonoy Aquino, popularly and cleanly elected, to eradicate corruption and restore the dignity of the Filipino people. If he can lessen the concentrated political and monitory power in a few hands he would fulfill the dream of the great national hero Jose Rizal. If only he could do that, what an independence hero he would be himself.
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Physical Address:

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org

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(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
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http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/the-greatest-freedom/

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[People] The Time of Transparency by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Time of Transparency
by Fr. Shay Cullen

The conviction of the Philippine Chief Justice Corona for dishonesty having failed to tell the truth in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) as required of every public official by law is a serious event in the history of the Philippines. The first impeachment of a public official. It could pave the way for greater accountability by government officials, judges and prosecutors and an improvement in the administration of the rule of law in the country.

The alleged corruption of some members of the judiciary is legendary yet very few judges have been brought to trial and convicted. That is why this decision finding the chief justice guilty of dishonesty is monumental. It has brought hope for judicial reform in the country. The Supreme Court has ordered all judges to open their SALNs to the public. It is only right and proper.

It is the judiciary which can pass judgment on the rest of us. The supreme court justices interpret the constitution, they establish what is right and wrong. Judges must be totally dedicated to truth, honesty and integrity starting with themselves. How else can they implement the law with impartiality if they themselves do not obey it or think that they are above the law.

It has been the common belief that the judges protect each other. Complaints against them are seldom fully investigated. A Judge in Davao blocked an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into a suspected burial grave for victims of summary executions. Although it was clearly an obstruction of justice, he got away with it.

Allegedly, a hefty bribe can secure a marriage annulment or a dismissal of a serious charge. Some people believe court decisions are for sale to those who can pay the most. However exaggerations abound and the conviction of the chief justice must not be taken as a conviction of the whole judiciary, there are many good honest judges but we need many more.

It is common belief too that some judges favor the rich above the poor, that they are over lenient with child sex abusers and rapists. It makes the judiciary look like protectors of pedophiles. There are few convictions of child abusers and no foreign sex tourists have been convicted for child sexual abuse in many years. Although corrupt prosecutors are to be blamed also.

The long delays, endless postponements and frequent dismissals of charges against child abusers by suspect judges and corrupt prosecutors is a serious injustice. Speedy trials with continuous hearings should be the right for every child victim but they don’t get it and frequently they give up seeking justice. The rapist goes free just as planned by all except the child victim.

The apparent impunity of human rights violators, police and military, and people traffickers, is shocking and received heavy criticism from the Geneva based UN committee reviewing the Philippine record last week. This is the now the greatest challenge to the administration of President Aquino. Much has been achieved in two years but much more is needed.

The conviction of the Chief Justice and the order for the Supreme court to judges to open all their SALNs to public scrutiny has opened up the possibility that all officials will have to publish their SALNs . We can expect a rush to the banks by officials with hidden assets to withdraw them especially those with US dollars. Government officials and politicians reportedly keep their secret and unlawful wealth in dollar accounts on the premise that they cannot ever be disclosed under the banking law.

But the impeachment trial and conviction busted that all too convenient interpretation of the law used by the chief justice. The people will be demanding to see that all officials SALNs are published and accessible on the internet. For sure wily officials will use dummies to hold their ill-gotten wealth or they will hide it abroad.

We can look to the future with hope that there will be a positive and beneficial outcome to this conviction. The Philippine judiciary will be a healthier and more trustworthy servant of the people and deliver justice speedily and fairly. Perhaps abused children will find justice, the even the assassins might be tried and convicted. If we can have that we will have a more just and happier country.

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Physical Address:
Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org
SEND US DONATIONS: You can now send us donations Online via PAYPAL. Please visit our website.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/the-time-of-transparency

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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[Petition] Petition campaign to the Senators of the Philippines to reject any amendment to the existing Juvenile Justice Welfare bill RA 9344

Dear friends,

Preda has begun a petition campaign to the Senators of the Philippines to reject any amendment to the existing juvenile Justice Welfare bill RA 9344. The proposed amendment that has reached second reading in the lower house would put children as young as 12-years old on trial as criminals. The senate can ignore the matter or vote to leave it as it is and protect children from the horrors of jail where they suffer serious harm and are denied their human and children’s rights. At 12 year old they are in danger of being beaten and abused by other older inmates and even sexually abused when put in cells with adult criminals.

Please send an email of your own or use the sample below.

Many thanks

Fr. Shay Cullen

Dear Honorable Senators,

This is an appeal to you to please reject any attempt to amend the Juvenile Justice Welfare Bill RA 9344 which protects children from the brutality and dehumanizing conditions of jails. The law presently gives them protection and help by diversion and rehabilitation.

They ought not to be charged with crimes and put on trial at 12-years old. Children are led astray by adult criminals and parents and guardians neglecting the children.

The law should bring them to answer for their neglect of the children and the bad example they give, Each child is a child of God and has rights and dignity that must be respected .

The present Philippine law RA 9344 which was passed first by you honorable Senators is progressive and enlightened. Please do not allow it to be changed. Protect children at all times, especially from going to jail where they are being abused. They need protection and education.

With respect,

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