Tag Archives: PREDA

[People] Human Traffickers Supply Children to the Sex Business -by Fr.Shay Cullen

Human Traffickers Supply Children to the Sex Business
Fr.Shay Cullen
www.preda.org

The greatest pain for families is when the parents fight, argue, create a violent home, scold and beat the children and then separate. It has happened thousands of times and that is just what happened to mother and father of 12-year old Meanne. Her father disappeared and in despair the mother sold what they had to buy drugs and when that money ran out, she sold herself along the streets of Angeles City to the sex tourists from many countries. Soon, she was unacceptable and became ragged and worn out.

So she gave her daughter Meanne to a human trafficker to be sold into the sex industry to earn money to support her drug habit. Angeles City is well-known for its human traffickers and sex bars along the road known as Fields Avenue. The bars are licensed and have a mayor’s permit to operate. The sex business is considered an important part of the local economy.

The trade in minors is a form of sex slavery because they are in debt bondage to the sex bar operators. They are quickly made dependent on drugs to keep them in debt and they are unable to quit or escape. The entire corrupt industry should be closed down for exploiting women and children. It is an affront and insult to Philippine dignity. It is also a hive of drug abuse and illegal trafficking. The war-on-drugs should be carried into the sex industry and investigate the criminal syndicates and sex mafia that operate the business. There is an estimated 4.5 million sex slaves in the business worldwide and it earns as much as 32 billion US dollars a year.

In Angeles City, as in most towns and cities in the Philippines, the sexual exploitation of young women and children is rampant. Children are trafficked by relatives that offer the children to the throngs of foreign customers who frequent the area and sex bars. In one television report they offered a 14-year-old child to the journalists. (see The Raid on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xRCk8Ni-cs). The minors are trafficked and sold on the side of the road or through cellphone.

Meanne at 12 years old was brought by the pimp first to a Filipino sex tourist and he raped her. Then she was sold to foreign sex tourists in Angeles City. They continually sexually exploited her. One by one they took her to a hotel. The hotel management is accustomed to allowing children and foreigners go inside their establishments. No one cares, it’s just business.

On one occasion, Meanne revealed that she was brought to the residence of a foreign sex tourist . She was passed around like a plaything and abused many times in different places. Finally, there was a concerned citizen who came to know about it and reported the situation to the anti-trafficking task force. There was a rescue operation and a raid on the house of the human trafficker by the anti-trafficking task force on 27 May 2014 and six minor girls, including Meanne, were rescued.

Despite the extent of the abuse of the children no proper investigation as to who were the rapists of the children was made. No local or foreign sex tourist was arrested. They are seemingly immune from arrest and prosecution as they pay the officials and go free. If ever there is a court case against a foreigner for child rape or trafficking it is settled for money one way or the other. The International Justice Mission was behind the rescue and two cases were filed in court against the Filipino traffickers.
Meanne was sent to the government home for trafficked girls but she escaped from there many times and with other minors returned to Angeles and they were picked up and placed in atTransit house but escaped again. Soon she was being sexually exploited again and living on the streets. She thought that was all she was good for and there was no other future for her. She was again found by social workers and this time she was referred to the Preda Home for Girls on 26 September 2017. Her siblings were cared for by the grandmother when her mother was jailed for drug abuse.

Amazingly she decided to stay at Preda although it is an open center and she could easily escape. She was welcomed and reassured that she was a good girl and had no blame for what happened to her. She was told she could start a new life with education and help for her problems. Then the slow but steady transformation began. She felt accepted, understood supported and never was scolded or punished or heard harsh words. It is all forbidden at Preda. She was reminded of her human dignity and rights. She understood her rights were grievously violated by the mother and human traffickers, pimps and the abusers. She realized she was valued and could restore her dignity and her rebellious attitude melted away.

She is now a shy, quiet, peaceful child and happy to help in the kitchen and looks after the small children like they are her sisters. In the Emotional Expression Therapy room, it is another Meanne that is revealed. Her aggression and anger at her abusers and the neglect and lack of love from her parents is poured out and she cries out and shouts and punches the cushions to release her frustrations and anger.
Then after almost an hour she calms down and tells the therapist her feelings and all that happened to her. She is studying again and has become an empowered young girl with self-confidence and growing personality. After such a terrible experience of abuse and exploitation, Meanne is happy successful child.

But the sex business continues and many more children are sold into slavery. They too have to be rescued until the industry is closed down and the children can find freedom, peace, and a better happier life.

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, Information Officer: predainfo@preda.org

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[People] A Registry and Ban on Travelling Pedophiles by Law -by Fr. Shay Cullen

A Registry and Ban on Travelling Pedophiles by Law
12 October 2017
Shay Cullen

Jerry Aspinio is a 13-year-old boy who was full of wonder and curiosity at the world as he grew up in Angeles City, Philippines. Although that is not his real name, imagine what he found when one day with some of his classmates his age he left the school and heard a man call to them from a house balcony just outside the school gate, “Come on over, here are some candies.” The large overweight white male from the UK called to them as he threw a handful of candies to the boys passing below.

The kids rushed to get them, laughing and pushing and shoving. The man was soon beside them inviting them inside to play video games and watch TV on a huge screen. These were wonders to the poor boys who could not afford a movie ticket or play a video game. They ate and drank soft drinks and soon he had them sitting on his lap.

The pedophile showed them videos of sexual acts that he pressured them to do to him for money. DS, almost 70 years old then, abused Jerry and the other boys. He was facing child sexual abuse charges in the UK some years previously and fled to the Philippines. He set up a profitable business here and was charged several times with the sexual abuse of minors. The charges were dropped when he paid bribes to the corrupt officials. But a few years ago, he was extradited to the UK to face the child abuse charges there and was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in jail.

If there was a law that allowed his passport be cancelled when he was first charged, he would not have escaped and would have remained in the UK and faced justice. His conviction would put him on the register of convicted pedophiles and watched after sentence was served. He would not have been able to travel and abuse Filipino children.

We need a strong law cancelling the passports of convicted child sex offenders. Thousands of men from rich countries charged with crimes against children and many convicted of child rape travel to poor countries where the law enforcement is lax and they easily abuse and rape children with impunity.

The defenders of children are promoting such a new law in Ireland and the UK and eventually in the EU. Ireland is already taking the lead in this led by TD Maureen O’Sullivan supported by TD Sean Barrett and other concerned members of the parliament and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee who believe firmly it can be done given the political will of the Irish Dail. For this they were elected and they are committed to protect children wherever they are vulnerable and exposed to traveling child sex offenders.

Unlike other countries Ireland does not have a registry of child sexual offenders but it should have and this ought to be included in the new law. Also the law ought to provide that a Garda section be formed to monitor and watch these convicted pedophiles listed on the registry and that they report frequently to the Garda station as is the practice in other countries. Any convicted pedophile that may elude the watch list ought to be reported to Interpol and Europol.

The debate on such a proposed law will be about the constitutional rights of convicted pedophiles to travel and the rights to protect vulnerable children from rape and abuse. In the balance, the new law should come down on the side of the rights of the children. They are the weakest and most prone and vulnerable.

While there is no precedent in Irish law to allow this, there is in the UK where suspected football hooligans are banned from travelling to certain football matches. They are just suspects of a possible crime, not even convicted, yet the law allowed them to be banned. Besides, citizens or residents of the UK also suspected of planning to travel to a Middle Eastern country to engage with Jihadists can have their passports held.

The European Court of Human Rights has not ruled against it and human rights groups have not protested this practice. To cancel a passport or deny one to an Irish citizen for just cause is legal, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. It does not mean that their citizenship or nationality is revoked. It means as an Irish or a UK citizen for that matter, due to their previous conviction, they cannot travel abroad.

The new law in Ireland and the UK must favor the greater good that protects children from abuse against the rights of a convicted pedophile to travel. Besides, the Australian parliament has passed such a law and it has not been challenged as violating any constitutional right of a convicted pedophile.

While good and honest human rights activists and civil libertarians may indeed challenge such a law, there will be secret opposition from the pedophiles hidden but lurking at all levels in society that will find behind-the-scenes ways to block such a law. We have to accept the truth that there are thousands of secret child abusers hidden in the fabric of society. Statistics says one child in every four in Ireland has suffered abuse (info@ oneinfour.ie). The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) also has shocking statistics and shows a conspiracy of silence in society denying or covering up child sexual abuse. Pedophile networks are everywhere as seen by the discovery of thousands of pedophiles linked together sharing images of children being sexually abused on-line.

We need a strong clear sustainable law that creates a registry of convicted child sexual offenders and mandates judges to severely restrict or ban outright a convicted child sexual offender for travelling abroad.

http://www.preda.org

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[People] The Nobel Peace Prize Nomination 2017 -Fr. Shay Cullen

The Nobel Peace Prize Nomination 2017
Fr. Shay Cullen
5 October 2017

The German Bundestag Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development led by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights and Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Dr Bärbel Kofler, nominated last February the work done by the Preda Foundation, Father Shay Cullen and his team for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. It can only now be made public.

The prestigious nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize by such a distinguished parliamentary group highlights the work of the Preda Foundation and hundreds of Filipino human rights advocates working in seriously deteriorating conditions of human rights violations. It is a dangerous and risky work by hundreds of courageous Filipinos defending the helpless victims.

Rodrigo Duterte told his police last 16 August 2017 to “shoot those who are part of (drug activity). If they are (members of human rights organizations) and are obstructing justice shoot them,” he ordered. He also said that human rights organizations could possibly face criminal investigation for criticizing his anti-drug campaign. “One of these days, you human rights groups, I will also investigate you, that’s the truth, for conspiracy,” he told the media. In December 2016 he also threatened to kill human rights defenders.

Despite these dire warnings, the advocates continued standing up, marching, writing and speaking out for the rule of law and human dignity. The nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, while given to one, is for all. It is a signal of solidarity and support for all the human rights advocates.

Anton is a teenager that recently sought refuge and protection in the Preda home for boys. He feared that he was tagged as a drug dependent and frightened that he would be killed by a vigilante group or by the police. Preda has sheltered and protected hundreds of youth from violations of their rights by rescuing them from horrid dangerous jail cells and from the streets and dangerous situations. More young people are being targeted by the death squads and as many as 54 children have been killed already. The total estimated number dead is at 12,700 since May 2016.

The blatant killing of 17-year-old Kian de los Santos in August this year ignited a outpouring of anger and rage among Filipinos and now 60 percent of the people polled say that they believe only the poor are being killed. Another 14-year old youth and his companion, 19 years old were found dead, their faces wrapped in plastic tape, the marks of extrajudicial killing.

Seventy percent of the people interviewed in a SWS poll said that they fear the death squads might target their relatives or neighbors. Most of the accused are the very poor and killed for abusing a few grams of “shabu,” an illegal drug. Others are killed for a bounty payment. This has thrown the spotlight on the recent Senate investigations on the smuggling into the Philippines of large quantities of chrystal meth drugs, commonly known as “shabu” by a Davao group to which the son of the president has been linked. The president said that he would resign if the allegations were proven and he would kill his son if he was proven to be using illegal drugs.

The wave of street protests by thousands of Filipinos against the killings has indicated that the silent majority of Filipinos is finding a voice and is against the killings and the human rights violations. The human rights advocates’ hard work is showing results in greater public awareness of the moral values and rule of law values at stake. Some of the supportive media is also speaking out against the human rights violations.

The church is finding its voice too through a few outspoken leaders like Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan where many youth have been killed. The archbishop is offering protection to police who would turn to confess in public their involvement in the killings and the violations of human rights by the extrajudicial killings of innocent people.

But despite this the President is adamant in his campaign. He is quoted to have said recently: “I tell you, I will triple it. ‘Pag hindi nasunod ang gusto ko, to get rid of my country (of the drug problem), you can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more (deaths),” Duterte said in Davao City after his return from an official visit to Japan according to media reports. During his campaign for the presidency, he said 100,000 people would die when he would launch his war on crime. Then in response, a police operation that identifies suspects was intensified and as many as 32 suspects were killed in a single night in Bulacan province and in Metro Manila, within the same 48 hours, another 26 people were killed. President Duterte said it was a good operation. “Thirty-two were killed in a massive raid in Bulacan. That is good. If we could kill 32 every day, then maybe we could reduce what ails this country,” he told the media in an interview.

These are dark and difficult days for those defending the rights of the people targeted by the death squads that seem to operate with official protection. Some are police in civilian clothes, according to some researches. It is in this atmosphere that the German Commissioner Dr Bärbel Kofler and the German Bundestag committee signed the letter of nomination. It is important to have international support and encouragement to continue the struggle and defense of the poor and the vulnerable.

end

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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, Information Officer: predainfo@preda.org

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[People] The Killing of Children -by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Killing of Children
by Fr. Shay Cullen

The President is having a very successful campaign against suspected drug dealers and drug users. The killing of a 17-year old Grade 11 student, Kian Loyd delos Santos, by police in an anti-drug operation last week during which as many as 94 people were shot dead by police was just one too many. The police claim that all the dead, including the boy, resisted arrest and fought back. However, witnesses and CCTV footage of the incident show that the boy was dragged and shot dead.

Whatever the truth of it is, the evidence that these 94 people were all drug dealers and had resisted arrest is woefully lacking. Many in the Philippines are shocked at the news that as many as 31 minors have been shot dead during the past twelve months of the President’s war-on-drugs. The tough-talking and feared President strengthened his determination to pursue the war-on-drugs and said that it would continue relentlessly and warned drug pushers that they will face “either jail or hell.” “Illegal drugs are the root cause of much evil and so much suffering that weaken the social fabric and deters foreign investment from pouring in,” he said.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David spoke out against it and condemned the killing of Kian Loyd Delos Santos. “This is one very specific case where an innocent individual, who happens to be just a boy, a Grade 11 student, you snuff out the future of a child,” David said in a phone interview with Rappler on Friday, August 18. “That really crushes my heart as bishop. I cannot possibly keep quiet about this,” said David, the incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He is one of the most outspoken bishops against the extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

The targeting of children is not unusual. The authorities look down upon them. The move by the authorities to change the juvenile justice and welfare law and reduce the minimum age of criminal liability to nine years old is still pending in the congress. In a speech to the Boy Scouts, the President said children in conflict with the law have criminals minds.

Without evidence against the suspects, they are listed by local officials and are judged guilty and arrested, jailed or even executed. The President praised the big “success” of the operation. The rule of law and due process is ignored and for many Filipinos of conscience, it is extrajudicial killing. The police vigorously deny it. Some commentators say that as many as ten thousand suspects have died in the war on drugs killed by police and vigilantes. The vigilantes, some say, are police in disguise and they are paid a bonus for every killing. This cannot be confirmed. The owners of the funeral parlors where the bodies are brought pay the police to bring them more bodies, some reports say. The families of the victims have to borrow heavily to pay for the expensive funeral. A report by Reuters last June 29 revealed that some police bring the dead bodies to hospitals as part of a cover up.

The amazing thing is that for a so-called Catholic country that is the Philippines, surveys say the tough talking president has approval ratings as high as 80 percent of those polled. Some say many Filipinos give approval in a survey out of fear. The president who apparently enjoys wide popularity said he would kill human rights advocates too to show them what human rights violations were. Later his communications officials said he didn’t mean it.

In the Archdiocese of Dagupan, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, ordered that the church bells in his diocese be rung for 15 minutes every day for three months to protest the killings. This is needed, he said, to arouse the people who have become “cowards in expressing anger against evil.”

“The sounding of the bells is a call to stop approval of the killings,” Villegas said in a statement read last week in churches in his archdiocese in Pangasinan province. “The country is in chaos. The officer who kills is rewarded and the slain get the blame. The corpses could no longer defend themselves from accusations that they ‘fought back,’” he said. “Why are we no longer horrified by the sound of the gun and blood flowing on the sidewalks? Why is nobody raging against drugs that were brought in from China?” Villegas asked, referring to a huge drugs shipment that managed to pass through Manila’s ports under the watch of customs officials appointed by Duterte.

And so it is that the voices of the outspoken, vocal bishops are being heard. In Caloocan City, Bishop David organized walk for peace. In the Archdiocese of Manila, Archbishop Cardinal Tagle issued a pastoral letter that did not condemn the killings but said “We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives.”

This is a time for people of conscience to know and speak the truth, to be prophetic, to proclaim the value of every life, to stand for the truth, justice, human dignity, due process and the rule of law so that all people will be protected and safe from home invasion and the arbitrary killing of innocent people.

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

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[People] Banning Travel of Pedophiles Saves Children from Abuse by Fr. Shay Cullen

Banning Travel of Pedophiles Saves Children from Abuse
Fr. Shay Cullen
27 July 2016

It was a normal day in the life of 13-year old Jeremiah as he was leaving the school yard in Angeles City. He saw his classmates running to get candies and chocolates being handed out by a very overweight, cheerful balding Caucasian man. He sat outside his house, which was close to the schoolyard, and was throwing around candies as if feeding chickens and the children flocked to get them. He invited some of the boys to come into his house and upstairs, where he invited them, to have more candies and watch television. He quickly made friends with them.

In the following days, he did the same again until the boys were groomed and comfortable in his house. Then he showed them videos of men and boys having sex. Jeremiah was embarrassed but Douglas Slade took him on to his lap and the abuse happened. It was just one of several incidents of sexual abuse and he became different, morose and depressed and was psychologically damaged by the sexual abuse.

Jeremiah then told his parents. They immediately filed charges against Douglas Slade and then the others boys came forward to say Slade had done similar acts of abuse to them. They filed charges.

Over several years, none of the court cases against the wealthy Slade prospered. There were rumors of corruption and bribery at all levels in the prosecution and the judiciary but inexplicably, despite the direct testimony of the victims and other witness, the lady judge dismissed the cases. In an interview with ITV, an undercover camera taped Slade admitting that his lawyer was able to make payments to have the cases dismissed.

There is a thriving dark business in courtrooms to allow foreign child sex abusers or wealthy Filipinos to go free for a price to abuse more children. That’s what Slade did: he felt protected and abused children again. What is also just as shocking is the level of corruption and absence of moral values among these duty bearers who are being paid to protect children and bring their abusers to justice.

To be abused by people you trust is a terrible life long experience and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children happens in the family- parents and relatives and neighbors. Thousands of children are sexually abused everywhere every day, one in over three girls have been abused and one in every six boys. That is a terrible statistic and a condemnation of human society. Only a fraction of the victims can ever tell the abuse has happened.

Slade had been accused of child sexual abuse in the UK years previously. He travelled to the Philippines where he set up a business and a house of sexual abuse of children and he got away with it due to corrupt officials. As a serious suspect in child sexual abuse case in the UK, he should have been banned from leaving the UK. But no court order was handed down to stop him fleeing.

Eventually after years of lobbying by Preda Foundation and good police work in the UK, Slade was extradited from the Philippines back to the UK and was put on trial for the historical child abuse he committed in the UK. He was convicted to 24 years in jail. The many boys he abused in the Philippines received no justice and no recompense. Preda with a pro-bon lawyer is suing Slade in the UK for compensation for the injuries they have suffered. That case is ongoing in London.

Those pedophiles like Slade and many thousands of others from Australia convicted of child abuse will be banned from traveling abroad as soon as the new law is activated. Now, the United States is considering new legislation to ban citizens from traveling to North Korea. Also, many nations have passed laws that ban suspected neophyte jihadists from travelling to Syria to join a jihad.

They are only suspected, not convicted of any crime, so it is right and good to have a law to ban convicted pedophiles and sex offenders from travelling beyond the reach of police monitoring and surveillance service in their own countries.

Prevention is so much better than cure. There was a time in the Philippines whereby a child had to be abused first before any crime was committed and action taken. So if a child sex abuser took a child to their hotel room, the police would not go to rescue the child because there was no evidence of abuse. They would need an arrest warrant.

Then we lobbied for many years and had the child protection law, known as Republic Act 7610, passed. Under Section 6 of the law, it is a blatant crime for a non-relative of a child to be alone with him or her in a secluded area. That gives the police and social workers the right to move in to the hotel room or any secluded place and rescue the child and make an arrest.

Lobbying and campaigning to your community and political leaders for a cancellation of the passports of pedophiles is just one great campaign that will save thousands of children from abuse in the days and years to come. Let’s get to work and do it!

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

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[People] Children Are Not Criminals -By Fr. Shay Cullen

Children Are Not Criminals
Father Shay Cullen
23 November 2016

325-fr-shay-cullenThere are some haunting images from the past when children as young as 6 years old were incarcerated in jail behind iron bars and mixed with adults in prison cells where they were abused by pedophiles. Hungry children jailed as criminals for begging on the street. That’s what some congress people want to bring back by lowering the minimum age of criminal liability from 15 years old to nine or 12 years old. It’s a return to the penal code of 1930.

The jailing of small children as in the past (see photo of Rosi) is still happening today and kids are put behind bars (see http://www.preda.org gallery).It is forbidden by the law Republic Act 10630. Lowering the minimum age of criminal liability will make this all the more common. Local governments do not have a proper home for detained children in conflict with the law (CICL) and children at risk (CAR). They have jail cells. How much more will it happen if the congress changes and amend the law to allow nine or 12-year old children to be held criminally liable even for misdemeanors?

Children, boys and girls, are being picked up in violation of a curfew decree and held in jail cells. They are vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse under those conditions and are frequently left unfed and sleeping on the concrete floors. Is that what the People of the Philippines want to do to the most abused and neglected children?

The criminalization and jailing of children is in violation of the best interests of the child. It is a violation of their rights and forbidden by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Philippine law under RA 7610 .The best interests of the child and respect for human rights of the child is number one and much more important than lowering the age of criminal liability which is branding them as criminals at nine or 12 years old. It is clear that the congress people rooting for the lowering the minimum age of criminality from 15 years to nine or 12 have never met or seen the  majority of street children and youth who are taken from the streets and jailed.

They will see that they are small malnourished ordinary children desperate for respect, attention, affection, friendship, food, education, skills training and if 16 and older they need a job and a chance of reconciliation with a solid family.

The UNICEF, DSWD and NGOs have repeatedly stated this fact. The child is a child in need of childhood, not jail and criminal court proceedings. Although bad as it is, it is less violent than just shooting them dead by a death squad as is apparently and allegedly a state policy if they are branded drug suspects. As many as 5000 people, some minors, have been allegedly shot dead.

The teenagers are in need of education and skills training also and not to be treated as criminals for they will soon become one.  As they are treated so they will become. For forty-four years, the Preda Foundation has given rehabilitation and recovery therapy to youth living as a therapeutic community in an open home. There is no need for guards and cells, gates or fences. The youth are children in need, not criminals. The proven track record shows this to be true. They recover from abuse and neglect with respect and dignity restored with therapy.

Youth and children in conflict with the law take any chance to grow and reform their neglected and broken lives. But once badly treated and abused by authority and treated as a criminal, it is very hard to convince them that they are not criminals and can have a new life.

Lowering the minimum age of criminal liability and treating the youth and children as criminals will make them like criminals. Congress will sow the seeds of anger and revolt in the hearts of these children. They will grow to be anti-social and seek revenge on those who tormented and abused them.

With the punitive abuse, government and society becomes the “punisher” of children not the healer and protector. If we allow this to happen we will lose thousands of youth to the world of criminality instead of saving them for the future-building of the country. They are poor and helpless before the authoritarian law.

When criminals exploit children then the police and authorities must go after the adult criminals and not be afraid of them and not just arrest and prosecute children. The adults exploiting the children can be prosecuted more easily under RA 7610- the child protection law.

The children so victimized can testify against the suspected abusers and exploiters and convictions will follow. We appeal to the intelligent and wise congress people to leave the minimum age of criminal liability at 15 years. Instead what must be done is to protect and help them through diversion and rehabilitation and to strictly implement tha law that says local governments must have proper therapeutic homes for children in conflict with the law and children at risk, not jails and prison cells.

shaycullen@preda.org

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[People] The Vulnerable Children of the Philippines By Fr. Shay Cullen

The Vulnerable Children of the Philippines
Fr. Shay Cullen
7 September 2016

325-fr-shay-cullenThe death of two small Filipino children caught in the gunfire of the vigilante assassins sent to kill suspected drug users and peddlers is an unfolding tragedy. The shoot-to-kill policy that has claimed as many as 2500 people marked as suspects and killed in the past few months is a descent into hell.

Five-year old Danica Mae Garcia was shot dead when two men on a motorcycle stopped at the house of Maximo Garcia when he was having lunch with his wife Gemma and their two grandchildren in the village of Mayombo, Dagupan City. They opened fire as he jumped up and ran out the back. Danica, his granddaughter, was shot in the hail of bullets the assassins fired at Maximo. He was hit three times but survived and went into hiding. Danica died. Maximo had been called to the office of the barangay district official to confess he was a drug user and sign a paper. He said he had long stopped using.

Althea Fhem Barbon, four-year old girl from Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, died also in a hail of gunfire by police when they opened fire on her father Aldrick Barbon from behind while he was riding his motorcycle. Althea was sitting on the gas tank in front of him. The bullets passed through Aldrick’s body and hit the child. He died and so did Althea. He was listed as a suspect drug seller.

The shoot-to-kill is a policy that has divided the nation. There are those who want the police to uphold the constitutional rights of all and follow the rulebook of investigation and due process based on evidence. They want Universal Human Rights respected and the right to life upheld. They want the sanctity of their homes protected and safe from invasion without a detailed search warrant. They want their families protected from harm and violence and false charges and abuse of authority. They want a civilized society under the rule of law. They want their constitutional rights to be honored.

There are those who support a shoot-to-kill policy where no evidence of a crime is needed to mark a suspect for a hail of bullets. No warrant or proof of guilt or innocence needed.  All those named as suspects are judged guilty by being on that list of suspects. The death list is a call to action by paid assassins, police and now under the emergency powers, the military.

Local district officials and law enforcers draw up death list based mostly on hearsay.  It is like the age of the inquisition. You will be called to confess your crime and sign a paper, that is your death warrant and you must accept the punishment. No trial needed. Such a policy has left anyone and everybody vulnerable to be listed as a suspect and marked for death.

The door is open to those with a grudge or an evil purpose against their rival, enemy or competitor to denounce them as a drug pusher. Then vigilante killers will shoot them and leave a placard with the words, “I am a pusher.” There will be no questions asked, no investigation. Case closed before it is opened.

It is a policy that has put the power of hearsay and the dubious list of suspects in the place of hard evidence. It has bypassed the rule of law and entered the realm of lawlessness. The gun has replaced the courtroom and the balance of right and wrong. There is no need to listen to the pleas of innocence or recognize the truth. No more the plea of guilty or not guilty, no more the presentation of evidence and the rebuttal. There is no place for reasonable doubt. There is no need for the passing of just judgment. It has already been made once your name is listed. Sentence is passed with a nod and a promise of payment and the motorbike killers target their quarry. Such is the process of extrajudicial execution.

While the attention of government is apparently focused totally on the war on drugs, abuse crimes against children is increasing. The abduction of children by human traffickers who take them from their villages and pick them up on the streets and sell them into thriving and ever increasing sex bars and brothels goes on right before the authorities.

This is not new. It is the cruel sex slavery that is common and ongoing in the Philippines for fifty years. The rights of the children and youth are being violated daily in a slow, spiritual death and at times by physical death as illegal drugs and the HIV-AIDS spread among the enslaved young sex workers. The new danger of the Zika virus being passed by sexual transmission is also present.

The sex industry is run on illegal drugs. Shabu and other drugs are available in the sex industry, sex bars and brothels to elate the customers and keep the young girls docile and submissive. It is a business that is not a target of the war on illegal drugs. The girls are victims and can be rescued by the authorities, helped recover and testify against the operators and pushers. Justice will be done under the rule of law and not the rule of violence and the gun.

shaycullen@gmail.com.

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[People] The Child Prisoners of Philippine Jails by Fr. Shay Cullen, mssc

The Child Prisoners of Philippine Jails
Fr. Shay Cullen, mssc
30 June 2016

325-fr-shay-cullenThe recent conviction of notorious British Douglas Slade in the United Kingdom (UK) for multiple acts of sex abuse against children is a historical and significant development. It is rare that British pedophiles are successfully extradited from the Philippines.

He fled to the Philippines to escape justice in Britain several years ago and he allegedly preyed on many young boys here in the Philippines. The Preda Foundation social workers and paralegal officers rescued several victims and brought legal charges against Slade in Philippine courts and pursued justice for them. Soon we will take civil court action in the UK to get justice for the Filipino children he allegedly abused.

In the Philippines he was allegedly able to bribe his way out of these cases. He was video recorded telling a journalist how he was able to bribe his way and have the cases dismissed.

This is real crime to the eternal shame of irresponsible and corrupt lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Despite strong evidence, including the testimony of the victims, the cases were dismissed and he allegedly carried on abusing more children. More cases were filed and dismissed. The corrupt officials who allowed it should answer to the nation and God.

This practice of corrupt officials granting impunity to rich, foreign sex tourists is driving the drug and sex trade here in the Philippines. Children as young as 12 years old are used sexual play toys of the pedophiles of many nationalities.

We hope that President Rodrigo Duterte, recently inaugurated, will really live up to his declaration to crush crime with an iron fist and close the drug and sex dens that proliferate all over the Philippines and bring to trial those sex tourists who abuse minors.

The tendency to blame the children for the crimes of adults is prevalent here. It took twenty years to pass a benign law that set the age of criminal liability for children at 15 years old, giving them protection. However, the new congress under President Duterte plans to lower that to 12 years of age.
Juanito is a 10-year-old boy rescued recently from a detention cell in Metro Manila by Micka, the Preda social worker. He was beaten and physically and orally abused by his father and his stepmother. Instead of jailing the abusive parents, the authorities jailed the boy. Even parents will blame the child for their abusive ways.

Also rescued from the detention cell is a girl victim of sexual abuse. The child, likely a victim of human trafficking, was put behind bars as if a criminal instead of jailing the rapists. Thousands of Filipino children are badly treated in this way. The Philippine laws and international conventions on children’s rights are apparently unknown to the local government officials who treat the poor children like vermin.

These places of detention are not children’s homes. They are jail cells. The children sleep on the concrete floor and have a dirty blocked toilet the smell would make one sick. Children as young as 10 are put into the overcrowded cells. There is no legal help, no education, no exercise, or sunlight or proper food. The situation in these places is a serious violation the law and the rights of the child. The older boys abuse the younger.

When the children are brought to the freedom and comfort of the Preda home in the countryside where all the needs and wants are met, they open up and tell all the hardship and abuse they suffered behind bars. Some have been bullied and sexually abused.

This negative attitude to criminalize children at an early age is the indication of incompetence and failure of the police to catch the real dangerous criminals. Perhaps they are afraid or unable to get evidence or they are part of the crime syndicates. It’s easy to arrest teenagers and claim success in solving crimes.

The announcement of congressmen to lower the age of criminal liability for children from the present 15 years of age to 12 years of age or even younger is a failure or unwillingness to capture the real masterminds behind criminality.

The street children at 12 years old will then be marked as criminal suspects. They will be targets for the vigilante death squads. Minors older than 15 will be shot or tried in court and sentenced as adults and will not have a second chance by diversion or rehabilitation as the law grants at present.

The police say the drug dealers and drug lords use the children as delivery boys and girls. If that is true, then the police have the testimony children to get convictions against the drug dealers under the child protection law otherwise known as RA 7610. This is much easier to prove in a court of law than drug possession. The child has to be protected, given therapy and counseling and the child will testify safely against the dealers and drug lords.

These are challenging times. We must do all we can to protect and save children form pedophiles and abuse in the home and on the streets. We must oppose the illegal and abusive jailing of children and campaign to leave the child protection law as it is and insist on the rule of law.

shaycullen@gmail.com

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[People] Justice where are you ? by Fr. Shay Cullen

Justice where are you ?
Fr. Shay Cullen.

Lady Justice is pictured blindfolded holding a scales and a sword. That needs to be changed. She needs to be seen as a clear eyed loving mother protecting children.

Maria 10 years-old was raped by the live-partner of her mother. With the help of good neighbors and the government social worker a case was filed against the suspected rapist in October 2011 in San Fernando, Pampanga, close to Angeles City cyber-sex and sex-slavery capital of the Philippines according some child rights advocates.

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Maria has recovered from the trauma of the rape with the help of therapists at the Preda Foundation’s therapeutic center and children’s home in Olongapo City. She was reintegrated with her caring grandmother. But she can never go home to her mother because the court case against the abuser is taking so long and he is still there waiting for her and probably raping other children.

The case is still in the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga for the past five years and no end is in sight. I appeal to judges to prioritize a speedy trial for child abuse victims.

Maria is just one of thousands of child rape victims. In The Raid a documentary by ABC television New York on YouTube children as young a fourteen years-old are shown for sale in sleazy sex bars run by foreigners.

One 14 year old is offered for sale to the camera crew by her auntie on a street corner of Angeles City. “Better you foreigners take her cherry (virginity) than others”. She said meaning they pay higher than Filipino pedophiles.

There are likely to be many thousands like her. They are powerless to complain and unable to report sexual abuse out of fear and threats. One child in every four children worldwide is a victim of sexual abuse according to experts.

Last week the National Bureau of Investigation(NBI) police rescued three children 5 to 8 years old in Pampanga and Bulacan province where they were sexually abused by their grandmother and two aunties in a cyber-sex den. They were showing them naked, and eating “feces”, to foreigners over the Internet for money. They also invite the foreign pedophiles to visit and abuse the kids in person, according to NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division Chief Eric Nuqui.

A study by the Virtual Global Task Force places the Philippines among the worst offenders regarding crimes of child cyber-pornography. The justice system is at fault. While there are mostly honest and good judges many are not. Court cases can take eight years or longer. Corruption and payoffs deny the victims justice and send a message that Philippine justice is for sale. Child sex abusers go free to abuse children all the more. We need dedicated lawyers to work for justice not just for the money.

But can who can you trust? One complainant looking for justice said “You pay your lawyer fifty thousand and the other side bribes him or her for a hundred and he earns 150,000 pesos and you loose”.

How often have I heard young idealistic law students swearing to be the best lawyers ever and fight for justice for the poor and oppressed but soon they fall victim to the corrupt system. In my forty-six years working for justice for the poor only two lawyers gave help pro bono.

At the Preda Center for abused children we do own lawyering with a paralegal, a volunteer international law student and good prosecutors backed by the Assistant Sec.of Justice Geronimo Sy.

Philippine law students are invited to volunteer. Professors should encourage their students and give them grades for the volunteer legal work. We will show them how to do it.

That’s what we need in the Philippines are retired international volunteer lawyers and judges to sit in the Family Courts to monitor and advise and publish reports on child abuse and human trafficking cases. It will stop the corruption.

A prosecutor who rarely prosecutes can say “ Why prosecute? It is easier to just dismiss the complaint for lack of sufficient evidence. Besides why make an enemy by prosecuting the abuser, better to get paid for doing nothing”.

A judge in Olongapo has been suspended by the Supreme Court Administrator for incompetence, dereliction of duty and dismissing child rape cases despite overwhelming evidence of guilt.

A female judge in Iba, Zambales told a child victim she accepted her (forced to sign) affidavit of desistance withdrawing the complaint, because the abuser agreed not to do it again. So the accused rapist admitted his crime, promised to repent and walked free. Is that Justice?

It is seemingly pedophile friendly court. The Supreme Court administrator has yet to act against such a judge.

Ten year-old, Jessica, was a victim of human trafficking, was brutally raped. A case was filed against the abuser in branch 5 Dinalupihan, Bataan in 2011 but justice is so slow in Dinalupihan with endless postponements no justice is in sight.

Jessica too was healed at the Preda Home for trafficked and abused children and returned to a caring family but justice is a healing process and she has not received that.

Retired lawyers can volunteer and do great work for justice. Law students can volunteer at http://www.preda.org and learn to do legal battle in the courtroom before they graduate. Then they will know what the future is like. Good people must advocate for an end to human trafficking, cyber-sex abuse and and demand justice .It is everyone’s right.

shaycullen@gmail.com
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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, Information Officer: predainfo@preda.org

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[Press Release] Tourists flee Olongapo sex bars in fear of arrest -PREDA

Tourists flee Olongapo sex bars in fear of arrest.
Preda news Reporter
18 may 2015

Photo by PREDA

Photo by PREDA

During a presentation at the Iowa State University Father Shay Cullen told a audience of 600 professors, clergy, human rights activists and students that following the undercover work of retired Australian police and US ICE agents sex tourists are leaving Olongapo and Subic sex tourist areas.

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“The wave of human slavery is increasing in the world and the young women and children are the most vulnerable victims. It is not only in poor countries but in developed nations also.” Fr.Shay told the audience.

Marlyn Capio- Richter ,A Preda social worker and Paralegal officer told her life story as a child sexually abused by step-father ,ran away and was lured by a human trafficker to Boracay island where she was forced and turned into a commercial sexually exploited child and forced to work in a sex bar when only 12 years old. Later with an other child she was rescued and brought to Preda by Father Shay Cullen and became a college graduate and is presently helping other victims of human trafficking.

In his presentation Fr.Shay said that in America alone as many as 35,000 children go missing every year as many are children who run away from sexual abuse in the home and neighborhood .Others are abducted and made sexual slaves and forced prostitution by human traffickers.

Fr.Shay reminded the audience that as many as 13 million unfortunate Africans ,men ,Women and children were kidnapped, abducted, captured and sold into slavery in North and South America over a period of 300 years upon which the early wealth of the nation in part was taken.’

“However today” ,Fr.Shay said , “more than 4.5 million women and children and poor working men are trafficked into slavery every year, most never escape and are forced into fishing boats , brothels and sex dens and made have forced abortions.

The demand is growing around the world with the power of the Internet. This is aided and abetted by the refusal of the Internet Server Providers in the Philippines and elsewhere to install filtering software and stop the proliferation of the child pornography.It is increasing the demand for child sex.When the sex tourists return to American,he said, the sex tourists are addicted to underage sex and are abusing American children daily.

He told the audience a big anti-trafficking success for Preda was when the Preda social workers rescued young women and children in 2013 from Sex bars in Calapadayan,Subic Town.This was helped by retired Australian police and active US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and Philippine police investigators .They went undercover into the sex bars poising as sex tourist customers.

They identified the minors and the sex customers and traffickers. Arrests were made and the court cases are still going on in Olongapo City with a jailed US national on trial. Sex tourists are deserting Subic and Olongapo bars and clubs as a result out of fear of being identified by the undercover retired police officers.

Father Shay said and as many as 12 sex bars have now closed and others denied a Mayors permit down. The chilling effect has been seen in the Olongapo area he said as sex tourists of many nationalities have a fear of being under surveillance and in danger of arrest in such bars.

Sex tourism is also a growing scourge that abuses and enslaves the children and women in developing countries and in Europe also where thousands of young girls are trafficked Germany and Austria every year where prostitution is legal.

However while it may protect German and Austrian sex workers the many trafficked children and girls are from the Ukraine and Belarus and eastern European countriews.These girls he said are deprived of their passport and documents and are held against their will in brothels and are threatened if they try to escape.

In the Philippines he said the most sex tourists come from South Korea, Japan and Australia and North America.The campaign to stop this and free the victims must go on. Fr.Shay illustrated hsi lecture with slides on the work of Preda.He showed the beautiful building in the countryside where rescued children are helped in a “best practice” therapeutic center and home for girls.

The visit and speech was on the invitation of the University Of Iowa ,organized with their help of Columban Father Bill Brunner,SSC and John Burke both are active in combating human trafficking in Iowa and works with the anti-human trafficking network who presented Preda with the award.

The plaque has the inscription:

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE WELFARE OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH AWARD.

Presented BY. The Central Iowa Service Network Against Human Trafficking and Youth and Shelter Services April 23, 2015.

Following the lecture in Iowa Ft.shay and Marlyn travelled to Minneapolis -St.paul and made presentation there also and later went to El Paso and Los Angeles to continue the lecture tour in the United States. They returned to Preda on 3rd. may 2015.

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P.O Box 68
Olongapo City 2200

Preda Main Center
Upper Kalaklan, Subic Bay
Olongapo City 2200 Philippines

E-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, Information Officer: predainfo@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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[People] Peace and Justice at Christmas by Fr. Shay Cullen

Peace and Justice at Christmas
Fr. Shay Cullen

With Christmas coming, we see the shining stars and message of peace. So many need peace: peace of heart and mind, soul and spirit, in the family and in friendships, in community, and above all peace to end the violence in the land of Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

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Over a million refugees are perishing in Jordan and Turkey huddled in the cold winter tents of the refugee camps. Their Christmas will be just a little better than that endured by the parents of Jesus of Nazareth on the night of his birth and days after.

They too were refugees and asylum seekers and fled to Egypt to escape the tyrant Herod. Today they would be arrested, jailed and likely incarcerated on an Australian Island or behind an English barb-wired camp for asylum seekers. They would be barred too from many other countries if they fled across the borders seeking shelter and safety from cruel oppressors and dictators. Today the tyrants are Assad in Syria, the IS in Iraq and in the borders of Turkey, the militias in Libya and Mugabe in Zimbabwe and many more dictators in Africa and Mexico. They would be able to enter the Philippines but the border guards would demand they give up their donkey and any other possessions.

What was denied the Holy Family and millions like them in the world today is the traditional human respect and courtesy, shelter and food and hospitality offered to travelers and outcasts for millennia. In the violent world of conflict today, we desperately need a positive caring attitude that respects human values and to which all hostile and alienated groups can aspire to embrace. A spirit of tolerance and peace-making is what is needed above all to work towards a ceasefire, peace talks and bring relief and healing to hundreds of thousands. We need to work towards a greater respect for human life and the rights and dignity of people and promote religious freedom and tolerance.

Iraq is split between the warring factions of Sunni and Shia and the IS blood thirsty fanatics have exploited this religious sectarianism and alienation of the Sunni to suit their own bloody ends. Christians and minorities are massacred, raped and decapitated without mercy or respect for human life by the Islamic state terrorist group.

Peacemaking in this situation is almost impossible. It is possible in other less violent war zones and urgently needed where social unrest is rising. It is finding a way to bring together the divided parties such as the Christian and Muslim communities in our various countries. Fostering inter-religious peace and harmony in non-violent communities wherever possible will help prevent more conflicts. It was heartening to see Pope Francis with the leaders of many religions gathered in the Vatican to declare unity, common peace-making and declaring sex slavery a crime against humanity.

That was one great step for the religious leaders to declare before the world. It certainly boosted our spirits here at the Preda Foundation where we are doing our best saving children and women from sex slavery and where some prosecutors, judges and politicians ignore it altogether. Those victims need justice, freedom and peace.

In Australia, we saw a fine spirit of unity between Christian and Muslim communities as they take a stand against extremism and violent acts like the hostage-taking in Sydney recently. Nations where racism and exclusion has been the norm must accept their bias and overcome their disgust with black people. In the United States thousands are marching demanding racial equality and justice as they protest the killing by police of an unarmed black youth.

To make peace each side in a conflict has to admit their mistakes and wrong-doing against the other. Peace-making and forgiveness will then be possible. Yet peace and forgiveness for heinous crimes without penance is not a true peace and healing. In Colombia, the people are protesting against a proposed total amnesty for the FARC rebels. They have waged insurgency and drug trafficking for decades and they want to walk free without accountability for thousands of murders, kidnappings and torture of hundreds of innocent civilians. The people demand justice and that they do penance.

Jesus of Nazareth the great Prince of Peace made it clear that forgiveness follows repentance and acceptance of penance. “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near,” he said. Penance is expected not out of revenge but as the just penalty due and as a humble admission and confession of sin and a firm resolve of repentance and restitution.

That’s why Jesus said as recorded in Matthew Chapter 18 that a child abuser is better to have a millstone tied around his neck and thrown in the depths of the sea. Probably because such abusers never confess or admit their crimes against children and accept their penance in jail. Without that, they are not easily forgiven.

And so the real Christmas is about the birth of Jesus who brought the great values of human rights, dignity of the person made in the image and likeness of God into the world. He established the rightful place of women and children as being the most important in the Kingdom (Matthew 18 v. 1-7), a great truth which was quickly ignored by a male-dominated society and Church. It was buried and forgotten as a very inconvenient truth until this generation.

So that is what we have to celebrate, not only the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but celebrate the Son of God who established those rights by being born fully human.

shaycullen@preda.org
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Physical Address:

CONTACT US:

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, Information Officer: emmanueldrewery@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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[People] Faith in Action Keeps it Strong and Alive by Fr. Shay Cullen

Faith in Action Keeps it Strong and Alive
Fr. Shay Cullen

Christmas is the celebration of the family, the birth of Jesus and his great mission to lead the world from sin, vice and cruelty to a kingdom where people are free to live a life of virtue and goodness. Here we can be members of God’s family and strive for friendship, justice, love and peace. What a great and beautiful ideal.

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The family is under great pressure these days as the cellphone, the Internet and social media spread so much negative influences from child pornography, extortion, bullying and sexual grooming and abuse.

Evil has its tentacles wrapped around the minds and hearts of our youth and adults through these technological means of communication. The youth have to be helped to resist and throw off these influences and embrace a life of virtue. Adults too are under great temptation. There is even a website that encourages people to sign up to have an adulterous relationship, designed to destroy families and leave children without united parents.

Yet there are millions of families that are rooted in deep Christian values of love, faithfulness and compassionate concern that helps the abused, exploited people. But these too are under pressure as society is becoming more secular, frivolous and prone to vice, materialism, corruption and crime.

Love as a spiritual experience of unselfish friendship is hard to find these days. Today they are easily overwhelmed by the selfish satisfaction of personal desires, greed and lust. The great ideal of service of others through volunteering without asking payments, rewards, praise and entitlements is diminishing. The age when thousands of young people answered the call to dedicate their lives to the service for the poor and the downtrodden is coming to an end. The age of the cheater, swindler, manipulator, betrayer and unfaithful is here.

Those who strive to lead a good and virtuous life have to strengthen their belief in eternal goodness and the sanctity of life, love, family and true faithful friends. Goodness abounds but it is not organized into a strong movement that could overwhelm the march of evil and corrupt practices of injustice and torture and abuse. Silence of the good people has given a kind of consent to the triumph of evil in today’s world. As Jesus said, we have to shout it from the roof tops and take a principled stand for what is right and just.

The enemy of the people is clearly seen in the corruption, graft, kickback and plunder of the people’s taxes by the dynastic families. The bad example from leaders permeates society and corrupts all around it. Justice is tainted and criminals go free. The incompetence of corrupt governance is apparent everywhere.

The recent expose of the beaten and starving naked children lying on the cement ground like the victims of Auschwitz at the Manila children’s detention center called RAC (Reception and Action Center) caused outrage but not enough. The children photographed looked like the skeletal victims of Auschwitz. I wrote about them recently and the horrors they endured. The social workers, managers and those sworn to help them allegedly betrayed the children and their profession. Allegations of pilfered money needed for the children’s food abound but are denied. Unqualified, underpaid staff are part of the abuse. The case of Francisco is just one of many examples of starved and tortured children as revealed this week by Amnesty International in Manila. Several of the victims of torture mentioned in the report (see http://www.preda.org ) were interviewed in the safety of the Preda Foundation’s children’s home for rescued children in Olongapo City.

When I came as a Columban Missionary from Ireland to the Philippines forty five year ago, I saw this terrible hardship of the children in jail. I set up Preda Foundation to give them a new, happier life and try to end the torture and abuse. It seems we saved hundreds but failed, so far, to change the systematic abuse of jailed children, illegal as it is.

In the Preda homes, they are recovering from their traumatic abuse and told their stories of torture to researchers from Amnesty International. Most of the children were rescued by Preda social workers and myself from government detention jails. Readers can help save many more.

Social services and NGOs have not remained untouched. Some have fallen into the darkness of selfish gain, dishonesty, unfaithfulness and greed. They abandon too easily and too quickly the values they vowed loudly to uphold and defend. The malaise of the world of selfishness and greed has damaged and led astray even some of those that once worked for the higher causes of defending human rights, helping the poor and restoring the dignity of the abused.

It’s no wonder the faithful, virtuous good men and women are treasures to society, the hope of the nation and the true defenders of human rights and abused children. We can oppose and defeat evil by being faithful, honest, generous, kind, respectful of all and put our faith into action and keep it strong by serving and helping the needy children this Christmas and always. shaycullen@preda.org

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Physical Address:

CONTACT US:

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, Information Officer: emmanueldrewery@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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 Universal desire for Justice. by Fr. Shay Cullen

The Universal  desire for Justice.
Fr. Shay Cullen
Seoul, Korea.

It was frosty cold standing in the center Island of the broad avenue in Seoul,Korea leading to the the historical palace and presidential house.There I met one of the grieving parents of the Korean ferry disaster.There is a protest encampment set up there where supporters and sympathizes come and stay and pray and demand justice for the families and victims of this terrible tragedy.There is a high sense and awareness of human rights and frequent democratic protests are held here in Seoul. But all are allowed to demonstrate continuously, peacefully or noisily without police crackdowns.

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At the solidarity camp on the traffic island the father of a child who was killed by the sinking of the ferry boat told me through an interpreter how the parents cannot accept the inaction of government. They want government to redress fully the injustice and the terrible wrong behind the sinking of the ferry and the loss of so many chidlren and adults. He handed me a solidarity badge,a yellow folded ribbon. The children who died look out from the assembled 300 photographs at the temporary shrine to their memory.Their silent stares tell us of the enormity of their loss and greatness of the crime.

The ferry Sewol, on 16 April 2014  with a complement of 500 passengers and crew.The ferry boat was bought from a Japanese ferry company with only two years of life left as a passenger ferry but the shipping company used questionable methods to force through a change in the law so the ferry could get a licence to carry passengers beyond its normal life. Together with illegal structural alterations to carry more cargo ,the ferry was top heavy and capsized. The Captain ,crew have been jailed and the family of the  owner are being arrested and charged. Justice is the overwhelming  desire of the families of the chidlren who died.

In the Philippines justice is hard to come by.  As many as 4,386 Filipinos perished in the greatest peacetime maritime disaster ever when the MV Doña Paz a ferry boat ,owned by Sulpicio Lines, out of Tacloban ,Leyte, sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987, only 24 people survived.The ship was way over its seaworthy life and built for 608 passengers.

The ship was rebuilt after a fire, unlicensed, grossly over-loaded and had no qualified captain or officer on duty on the bridge when the collision occurred leading the deaths of thousands. The Philippine Board of Marine Inquiry eventually cleared Sulpicio Lines of all liability, fault and negligence for the accident stopping short of sympathizing with the owners of the shipping line.

No one was arrested,tried or found guilty of negligence or held responsible for the deaths of so many. Everything is negotiable in the Philippines if you are rich and powerful.Little compensation was paid to the family members of 4,386 people who perished.

The families of the 162 victims who died and 93 severely burned people of a Manila disco fire had to wait 18 years and 8 months to get justice this past week. Small as it is with the sentences of seven Quezon city engineers and two businessmen to ten years each. Philippine Justice is hard to come by,all is negotiable except for the poor.

Last week a child ,Angie, from Botolan, Zambales with the mental capacity of  9 years old ,as testified by the resolution of the  prosecutor Emelyn T,Nacin-Catolico in April  2011.  had been cruelly raped with fear and threats  by a paedophile and the case referred to the Regional Trial court Iba ,Zambales .

Now three years later a new prosecutor, Olivia V.Non-Finones, instead of prosecuting the rapist pressured the child to sign an affidavit withdrawing her compliant. Such an affidavit of desistance is forbidden by order the Philippine Department of Justice and the Supreme Court has ruled many times that such affidavits of desistance have no weight what-so-ever.

Nevertheless the judge  Marifi P.Chua accepted the affidavit in court and stated in dismissing the rape charge against the accused that since the affidavit was based on the fact the rapist undertook  and promised not to rape again the lady judge dismissed the case and the accused  was allowed to walk free to do it again.The child was denied justice,more children are at risk.

Here in Seoul many welcome the UN resolution, approved by 111 countries, to send the leaders of North Korea to the International Criminal Court in The Hague  for crimes against humanity. Investigations and interviews with  escapees from repressive North Korea led to a special UN report in February 2014 that provides evidence for the allegations of the crimes of systematic murders, torture, beatings, starvations, rape, and forced abortions and unjust imprisonment of up to 120,000 people.

These issues and revelations have given a increased sense of obligation among the many South Koreans to do more to help  the less fortunate in North Korea and in developing countries. The desire for justice is universal and a nation without it is not a full civilized nation but close to a failed state.

This is perhaps why South Koreans are embracing and expanding their interest in social justice and  buying Fair Trade products from developing nations like the Philippines dried mangos fo small farmers and the indigenous people.  They have a growing moral conscience about the exploitation of  the poor and the duty to help.

Fair trade is a rapidly growing sector in civil society and among Christians  in many countries UK and Ireland Germany and Austria are among the most active. The movement in Seoul has a strong  supporter in Mayor Won Soon Park who  hosted in Seoul The Global Social Economic Forum this month to boost the social commitment of Koreans and foster international cooperation and Fair Trade. All of us  can do our share to help make justice the heart of  faith and life.

shaycullen@preda.org , http://www.preda.org.

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CONTACT US:

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, Information Officer: emmanueldrewery@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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[People] Family makes us as we are, loved and forgiven (Part Two) By Fr. Shay Cullen

Family makes us as we are, loved and forgiven (Part Two)
Fr. Shay Cullen

When there is real mature family and parental love of children, there will be loads of affirmation, understanding, trust, encouragement and inspiration by the good example of the parents and older brothers and sisters. These will result into fulfilled and satisfied children with a sense of freedom and they will be constantly challenged to stand on their own feet, find their freedom through education and community involvement and mature friendships. They will be self-reliant and non-dependent. They will not be the rebellious, prodigal children that see their parents as the sources of money for personal gratification and selfish ambition.

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These are children who have a growing sense of community needs and a wider sense for the world outside of their own, safe community. When youth see the world as it is, they can aspire to ideals of service. Thousands choose a life helping others and sacrificing themselves. Aid workers, refugee helpers, human rights activists, pastors and missionaries give themselves to a life of self-giving, thinking more of the needs of others than their own needs and wants. When they reach this level of human development they are on the road to a meaningful and fulfilled life and a successful career, too.

As growing maturing children in a secure family, they will not need to be scolded, lectured, disciplined and reprimanded. When problems and disagreements arise, frank sharing and rational, caring discussion will help solve it. Children who feel cared for and supported, unless corrupted by outside influence, will have an open communication and sharing of daily experience of feelings, relationships and events in their lives with their parents.

Their enlightened parents realize that punishment is not a deterrent to negative behavior but that determined counseling and support works best. Then the children see their parents as their friends, counselors and advisors with whom they can share with easy communication and trust. This is what forges the bonding of a loving, lasting relationship in a family. It gives security and confidence and a profound sense of self-value and worthiness to growing children and youth.

Children that are given trust and freedom of choice and taught to choose wisely will resist and overcome the temptations of the world. They will continue to be idealistic and uphold the values they see in their parents and admire and love them. They are grateful for the friendship and what parents made possible for them to achieve and experience. Family love based on these values will never end.

Admiring, supporting and affirming children is essential for healthy mental development. Doing and teaching by example is the most important and long lasting character formation parenting that you can find. The children will be partners in a family team and act together in play, education and community action and service. If indeed it starts early in life the teaching by example will ignite their sense of respect for all equally without prejudice.

They will have a sense of adventure, volunteerism and a spirit of community service and family togetherness with loyalty and bonding. The inclusion, affirmation, encouragement and parental love create the atmosphere where stress-free fast learning and intelligence can grow. Happy secure families produce loving, honest intelligent children and wise servant leaders who care for others more than themselves.

Then there are the broken homes with lost sons and daughters who leave the family due to sad misunderstandings, overly strict parents, a Romeo and Juliet relationship, drug use or perhaps the excessive demands of the youth that parents can’t meet. There is no perfect family and striving for the ideal is indeed a struggle.

I am surprised how few have actually read and know the many important values in the story of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Saint Luke. The young man is clearly at odds with his father and elder brother. He demands his father to give him part of his inheritance that he would normally receive after the retirement or death of the father. Reluctantly, the father does so.

Soon the youth goes off into the world and spends it all irresponsibly but his pride could not let him accept that he had thrown away a great life of security and success in his family. When he was near starving he woke up to reality and decided to go home, admit his mistakes and ask forgiveness. His father’s servants, he realized, had a better life than he had. When he was still far from the house his father, waiting daily by the roadside, ran to welcome and embrace him. No reprimand, no scolding, no punishment. He asked just to be treated as a servant. In fact his father restored him to his status as a son.

The point of the story is that God our Father has such immense love of his children that when they stray and leave him, he still waits for them to realize their mistakes and loves and forgives them. It is a great happiness to live with the blessing of forgiveness than struggle with the burden of guilt.

Humans may not have this divine virtue of forgiveness and reconciliation but it’s a gift worth striving for. Family peacemaking needs both sides to accept faults and forgive each other. shaycullen@preda.org

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Physical Address:

CONTACT US:

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, Information Officer: emmanueldrewery@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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] Our Family Made Us As We Are (Part 1) By Fr. Shay Cullen

Our Family Made Us As We Are (Part 1)
Fr. Shay Cullen

While the Pope, cardinals and hundreds of bishops and theologians meet in Rome to discuss the Church’s teaching on family life, all of us ought to be concerned as most of us were born into a family, either good, bad, broken or dysfunctional or none at all. Single parents are in their millions around the world.

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Our parent’s relationship with each other and their values or lack of them is what initially shaped our character, personality, emotions and life experience. We are what we are by this life forming experience. What comes after is due to the choices we make in the face of worldly challenges and opportunities, positive or negative. They may be blessings and gifts, or greed or selfish desires. Free choice is what marks us as human, makes us saints or sinners.

We will be better and more enlightened if we can choose the positive virtues of faithfulness, honesty and service to others and consider the impact they have on building a family. It is these choices that determine the impact we can have on the children and how a happy family can be achieved in a fractured and very secular, materialistic and sexualized world.

Every community, ethnic group, culture and nation is shaped, changed and challenged by the children growing up to form the next generation. They are going to be different in many ways from their parents and grandparents or some may perpetuate the same good or bad habits, positive attitudes and relationships that they experienced with their parents.

The world is changing at a fantastic pace and while the social media and the information available on the Internet is having a massive impact on children and youth today the greatest influence on the lives of children is still the relationship with parents or the lack of it. It is this that will form and mould the personality and character of the child and youth as it has done to all of us.

Parents today must reflect on their way of parenting. Our schools and colleges do not teach units or courses how to be a good parent. And being a parent will be a reality that can never change even after death.

New parents have to figure out alone or follow their parents in building a family whether it will be a functioning and viable family at all. With so many broken homes and disintegrating families parents are challenged today to evaluate and to think and talk about their family relationships. They need to examine them for strengths and weaknesses, mistakes, failures and set out to learn how to repair and rebuild a fractured family.

Some parents and children are not a family at all but a group at war within itself with constant arguments, bickering, scoldings, resorting to violence, wife-beating and child abuse. The children are abused, become rebellious and run to the streets where they are further exploited and abused. Some are thrown into jails.

Children from such a family grow up without the values of caring because they do not experience and feel cared and loved. Their life is exhausted in trying to survive and to be loved. They tend to leave home early and neglect their ageing parents in old age. If they get none or little, they have little or none to give back.

The primary source of love in a family comes from the relationship between father and mother. Parents in such families need to reflect and examine what they are saying and doing to their children and to each other. If it is predominantly negative, insulting, verbally stressful, argumentative and even violent, it will be a dysfunctional family, a place of fear, stress and feeling unwanted and unloved. Then more often than not the father or mother abandons them. It’s a deep life-long traumatic experience.

If a married relationship is based on mutual respect, friendship and glued with strong emotional attraction and it is based on the strong positive Christian values of the gospel and example of Jesus of Nazareth, it has a real chance of success. Such a family will have happy and intelligent children. Idealistic as this sounds it is possible and there are millions who have achieved it.

These are couples that married for love and not by an unintended pregnancy. They have the best chance of success and fulfillment. They will have stayed together faithfully and honestly and strived from the beginning to bring their children to life in a family environment of positive supportive love. If so, there will be no competition, clash of egos, dominance- seeking or selfish sexual affairs. Family harmony will predominate, disagreements will be peacefully resolved. They will protect their children from the destructive influence of evil and negativity in the world.

Parents teaching these values but practicing them also are on the road to building a happy family day by day with constant mutual encouragement, support, affirmation and physical and emotional affection.

The way to allow the inherent goodness in an innocent child to emerge is to be a good, loving parent and to help others in the community with the children participating from an early age. The good example of parents forms positive, unselfish attitudes and builds a caring and loving character in their children. A meaningful and valuable life will be the happy outcome. shaycullen@preda.org

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Physical Address:

CONTACT US:
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, Information Officer: emmanueldrewery@preda.org

TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF PREDA you may freely pass on the article or republish and send a donation via mail or PAYPAL at our website http://www.preda.org or through the Columban Missionary Society.

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] Solidarity for Philippine Fair Trade. By Fr. Shay Cullen, PREDA

Solidarity for Philippine Fair Trade
Reflections by Fr. Shay Cullen, PREDA

Fairness and justice is what the poor and the oppressed need from those elected to protect and serve them. When the people are in greatest need and government officials turn away then the people have been betrayed, abandoned and left without help. This is what I experience everyday in our struggle to get justice for the victims of human trafficking child sexual abuse. But there is little justice. The rich and powerful can buy a way out of their crimes. It happens also to the farmers and the urban poor their oppressors kill with impunity.

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That is what is happening to the Panay Fair Trade group in Panay island central Philippines. Some members of the Panay Fair Trade farmers cooperative have been harassed,brutalized and their leaders assassinated. One day Last March 2014 Romy was with his mother in law a the Public market when a motor cycle with two men drew close to him and opened fire shooting him in the head. His mother-in-law went into shock,and the killers and murders escaped on the motorbike .They were only fifty meters from a police station. Romy Capalla, died on the spot he paid the ultimate price for his solidarity with the poor. The same day fifteen kilometers away the small sugar mill of the farmers cooperative was mysteriously burnt to the ground by unknown arsonists. But the Philippine government has turned a blind eye to it all.

The eyes of the world are not closed. A solidarity group of international observers for the Fair Trade movement from Europe and around the world will travel to Panay Island this August 2014 in a demonstration of solidarity and support and also to speak out to the authorities to end the killing of the farmers and the leaders and respect human rights. The solidarity delegates will visit politicians, church leaders and speak with concerned groups to raise the awareness of the violations to human rights and the harm and great injustice done to the farmers.

The delegates from Europe and especially in Germany where DWP from Ravensburg and Gepa and CTM of Italy together with thousands of Fair Trade supporters will join with the Philippine Fair Trade organizations such as Preda Fair Trade,CCAP and others to protest the violation of the human rights of the farmers and their families.

There are killer death squads assassinating farmers and one squad killed their leader Romy Capalla.

These are independent farmers growing sugar cane on the own land or as rightful tenants and not part of the big sugar growing plantations. They have successfully broken away from the control of rich sugar barons who set a low payment for the sugar cane and a high price to mill it.

This economic control causes the farmers to remain mired in cruel poverty and their children cant go on to a better life. The farmer’s leaders and organizers are a dedicated group of human rights advocates and Fair Traders who are trying to bring a new and better life to the thousands of small farmers that are exploited in the sugar industry of Panay Island.

Fair Trade organizations in Europe buy the Muscovado Sugar from the Panay farmers at a fair price and the farmers have prospered and were able to raise funds to build their own sugar grinding and processing mill. They also sell Muscovado sugar locally to the supermarkets and make a good living,free from the dominating barons who feel threatened as more and more farmers want to join the association and mill their sugar at the association’s mill for a lower cost. They then earn more and prosper too. This is strong competition and the murderous attack on the members and Romy Capalla and the burning of the mill is believed to be the work of a few of these sugar barons. Romy will be remembered and celebrated as a staunch human rights defender.

His brother is the retired archbishop of Davao City. Romy was instrumental setting up the project and his group had great success in organizing the farmers into this Panay Fair Trade sugar producing cooperative where the small farmers held onto the land and planted their own sugar cane. They harvested and milled the sugar cane themselves in that small sugar mill that produced the Muscovado that is healthy and exported to the World shops. They also have local sales.

Throughout the Philippines the plantation owners an the super rich families form the ruling elite and they own or control 70% of the economy,manufacturing and agriculture in the Philippines. A few of the rich sugar planters apparently see the independence of the farmers having the own mill as a threat and a dangerous precedent for others . They want to control the entire sugar harvest and fix prices. But the strong organization begun by Romy Capalla resisted that and began the Fair trade alternative.

All help and assistance is needed to support the Philippine Human rights defenders and Fair Traders. The greed of a few has destroyed the lives of the many. As always they who do the most good are rejected,condemned and made to appear bad. It is the story of the Gospel , it is the hardship of trying to do justice ,change the world for the better and doing what is right. We must never lose heart and take our stand .
shaycullen@preda.org.

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[People] Lighting a candle in the darkness. By Fr. Shay Cullen

Lighting a candle in the darkness
By Fr. Shay Cullen

The good news is that hundreds, if not thousands of children will be protected from abuse and molestation by some of the 660 British subjects arrested for accessing unlawful images of children on the internet by a coordinated police action throughout the United Kingdom a few weeks ago. Many more suspects have been identified as accessing these horrific images of children being abused and could be arrested soon. The depressing news is that many of the images are of very young Filipino children and some could have been made by a British subject or her male associates.

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The discovery of 5 children between the ages of 5 and 7 years old and a 6 month old baby in the house of a British born woman in Subic, Philippines has shocked readers. Some of the children bear signs of having been sexually abused and tell horrifying experiences. A boy, 7 years old, tells of being sexually molested and being photographed naked by a male visitor to the house where he was confined. A six year old girl was found tied to a chair in a filthy room strewn with empty liquor bottles.

The suspect, now in the custody of the Philippine police, is a female British subject from Scotland, Lilian May Thomson Zimmer, 65, with a US passport. The images of these abused children are likely to be shared with paedophiles in the UK and elsewhere. Perhaps some of the 660 suspects arrested a few weeks ago around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have viewed them already.

Zimmer is charged with direct assault on persons in authority, serious illegal detention and child cruelty. More charges may follow. The children were rescued after a month-long campaign by the Preda Foundation to persuade the authorities to save the children. Finally, the children are now safe in a government child care home and recovering from their ordeal and talking about it.

There is a growing number of arrests in the Philippines of suspects making illegal images of children and using children for live cyber sex shows beamed over the internet whose customers are from the UK and other countries. They satisfy their depraved desires and earn huge sums of money. They get away with it because of lax law enforcement, bribery, and the non-compliance of the Internet Service Providers(ISPs) with the law.
The 2009 law, Republic Act No. 9775, states that filters and blocking software must be installed on the servers of the ISPs but it has not been done, that is five years of non-compliance and blazon flouting of the law.

The telecommunication corporations and the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) are in some kind of collaboration; that must be investigated by President Aquino. The NTC regulators have perhaps been embraced, captured, and who knows, even money may have changed hands. If so, it is a criminal conspiracy to subvert the law.

This law, if implemented by the specially created Senate and House Committee headed by the respective Chairs of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family relations and the House of Representatives Committee on Justice would give at least 85% protection and thousands of children could be saved. But the committee has failed to act, and has failed the Filipino children; a worse crime perhaps than the politicians who are accused and jailed for allegedly stealing billions of pesos from the people.

Republic Act 9775, under Section 9, says: “The duties of Internet Service Providers (ISP) are to monitor the content passing through their servers, notify the police of illegal content and provide the authorities the particulars of users who gained or attempted to gain access to an internet address which contains any form of child pornography. All ISPs shall install available technology, program or software to ensure access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered”. (complete law on http://www.preda.org)

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is supposed to oversee the implementation of the law. The law says that the ISP failing to implement and comply with the law should pay a fine and have its license to operate revoked for non-compliance. But the law is clearly ignored, flouted and disobeyed. It is a grave injustice to the Filipino people and children worldwide.

It is a stark reminder just how the rich corporations can manipulate the government commission and officials so they can continue to earn huge profits from the transmission of these illegal images of children to be sexually assaulted, raped and abused. They claim they are innocent and not responsible for the images passing through their servers. But the law says they must prevent the transmission. What greater evil is there for such images to circulate among child abusers instigating them to commit abuse?

This evil trade and the complicity of government agencies and corporations in not stopping it is a gross violation of children’s rights and an insult to the Filipino people. Such neglect and dereliction of duty that allows the images of thousands of children being sexually abused broadcast around the world to pedophiles is a crime in itself.

Clearly, President Aquino, the anti-corruption President, does not know this is happening but for him to act now would be a great service to the children and will inspire the nation. We can all help by writing to the President at Malacañang Palace, Manila, Philippines. Lighting a candle in the darkness will enlighten the minds and hearts of those that live there. [shaycullen@preda.org ; http://www.preda.org]

(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] 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

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[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.

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[People] A Mission in Life By Fr. Shay Cullen

A Mission in Life
By Fr. Shay Cullen

We have to have a mission in life, to make it meaningful,with purpose and to live more fully.The mission can be to accomplish any good work,motivated by a spiritual value of compassion, love of justice, care of others,empathy and solidarity with the sick, the oppressed and lonely. These inner convictions and commitments can be the driving force of mission.

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It can be caring for our family, helping the local community,dedicating ourselves to prayer,helping the poor in anyway we can or even going out to change the world and to help others without seeking to enrich ourselves or to gain from it.The more selfless and pure our motivation the better. Unable to be engaged personally on a mission to serve and directly save others many find a mission in sharing their surplus wealth in close partnership with a chosen mission or charitable work.

A mission in life is it own reward because it takes us out of ourselves toward others and it is a life of sharing and a life lived for others where we can find happiness, friendship and fulfillment. There is no better way to live as Jesus of Nazareth showed us. No greater love can anyone have,than to lay down their life for a friend.

I have been on mission with the Columban Missionary Society for almost 44 years. The Columbans made my mission possible from the beginning by sending me to the Philippines.Then the Holy Spirit took over and guided me the way I should go.

The latest chapter in my mission story happened a short while ago.I went with Preda social workers to get another youth named Miguel our of dehumanized prisons and to find his mother. His father had left them years before.

We got him out with a court order from the dirty infested prison cell ,a den of iniquity where innocent kids are treated like criminals.The minors are held pending an investigation of some allegation made against them, usually with little evidence to support it, It takes weeks or months in the Philippine system to have a child brought brought before a court. Meanwhile in the overcrowded cells the child is abused, molested, starved and even beaten by other inmates or cruel guards.

While the Preda social workers can save up to a hundred minors every year (some as young as 13) thousands more could be jailed and no one will know or help them. We have to change the system and get the juvenile justice law that forbids the jailing of minors under 15 be respected and implemented by the authorities.Those over 15 cannot be jailed unless the act was with discernment.But many are framed up. Changing that system is one mission I am on but it could take a life time.

Its in the Jail where we are called upon to look for Jesus of Nazareth to see him present among the poor ,the hungry naked and the unjustly imprisoned . On the day of Judgement St.Mathew tells us Jesus will call us to himself. `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Matthew 25:31-46 Then we will ask when did we do all that to you Lord? and he will answer, “so long as you did it to the poorest of my brothers and sisters you did it to me”. Its a powerful passage where Jesus identifies himself with the poorest of the poor ,the hungry,sick, lonely abandoned and unjustly imprisoned.

So from the jail I went to Paranaque in Metro Manila where there are millions of men women and malnourished sickly children living in the most unhygienic slums imaginable. I walked into a quagmire of filth, misery among the dwellers of the slums.Perverse poverty reigned supreme.

Its was not the first time that I visited a slum one of many.This was just a bit worse that the rest. They are the result of the great social equality in most modern societies where the wealth never trickles down to the poor. Where an estimated two percent owns or controls 70 percent of the national wealth. The revelations of many politicians stealing billions of pesos supports the point.

A great divide exists between rich and poor like that between Lazarus at the gate of the rich man Dives. Not even the crumbs that fell from his table could Lazarus get. The only creatures who had compassion were the kind dogs that licked his sores to try and heal him. What a condemnation of the irresponsible greedy rich. The children of the poor have to beg or steal to eat and then they go to jail.

To get to the shacks and shanties where Miguel mother lived we crossed a river thick smelly and as black as tar with the pollution nothing could exist there.Plastic bags and human waste floated there as the slums have no sewerage or toilets. The foot bridge was rickety, dangerous and made by the people themselves with scraps like their shacks and hovels.

They met. Miguel’s mother embraced her lost son in tears and something good and beautiful entered their impoverished world.

I looked up into the distance at the towering condominiums and skyscrapers of the super rich and wondered if there was a Zacchaeus among them who would have a change of heart and give back to the poor. End

(email : shaycullen@preda.org , http://www.preda.org)

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.

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