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Child-friendly Judge Gives Custody of Abused Child to Preda

November 28, 2017 ·  By Francisco B. Bermido, Jr.

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Child-friendly Judge Gives Custody of Abused Child to Preda
Francis B. Bermido Jr.

At 14 years old, Mary Ann* was repeatedly trafficked and sexually abused by 61-year old Jorge, a former employer of her own mother who consented to her being trafficked and abused in a hotel in Pampanga north of Manila. When she could no longer endure the abuse that she’s experiencing she found the courage to report her ordeal to a village official whom she trusts. She was then referred to the local social worker and brought to the Preda Home for Girls for safety and recovery.

At the Preda Home, she was welcomed by social workers and other staff and the many children who have recovered or are recovering from abuse and exploitation. Mary Ann found support and encouragement from them and had the courage to continue the legal case against her influential abuser. She attended all the preliminary investigations and eventually the case was elevated to the court. The judge issued an arrest warrant against Jorge and he was arrested and jailed by police upon a tip-off by a Preda social worker.

However, Mary Ann’s grandmother and mother remained under the influence of Jorge, her abuser. The grandmother filed a petition for habeas corpus in the Family Court of Olongapo in an attempt to get the custody of Mary Ann knowing that if ever she could have custody of Mary Ann, she can have the child file an affidavit of desistance and have the case against Jorge dismissed.

Preda Foundation fought this legal battle in Court and argued that it would be in the best interest of Mary Ann to stay at Preda where she’s able to study in the Alternative Learning System, receive psychological and emotional therapy and where she is safe and secure away from the clutches of her abuser.

On November 27, the child-friendly judge in Olongapo City recognized the services offered by Preda to Mary Ann and its positive outcomes and dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed by the grandmother. With that decision, Mary Ann can stay at the Preda Home and continue her legal fight against her trafficker and abuser Jorge until it is resolved.

*Mary Ann is not her real name.

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