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NEWSLETTER December 2004

December 3, 2004 · 

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Dear friends and defenders of human rights,

This is to tell you that all of us at the Preda Center are remembering you in our thoughts and prayers and wish you a very happy Christmas season and a great New Year.

By the time you get this, the seventy or more children and youth at the two Preda recovery centers are enjoying a Christmas and New year celebrations they never had before. They enjoy freedom from fear of punishment and abuse, the joy of being well-fed and respected, affirmed, encouraged and empowered to ask control of their own lives.

This is the dignity of God’s children made in God’s image and likeness. This is at the heart of the work of Preda- to restore the broken lives of the victims of human rights violations and sexual and physical abuse. These past months since the last newsletter, we have not rested from promoting and defending human rights. You will be glad to hear that we are expanding our work in preventing abuse and human rights violations.

Rescuing children from abuse in prisons

In the past three months, many more young people have been released from prisons as a result of Preda’s intervention. There are now 45 boys living in the new children’s home, it is almost full to capacity. Many more were released to the custody of their parent or relatives. We have written to the judges and asked them to send only youth 15 years and younger until there is a new facility ready.

Preda is also lobbying the Supreme Court to appoint more court social workers and social work trainees so as to speed up the release of young children. Many children are imprisoned because the single court social worker cannot cope with the huge number of cases. A social case study and recommendation by the social worker is required by law to release the children.

However, the Office of the Court Administrator has replied and said that appointing additional court social workers would be a deviation from the staffing pattern of the Office of the Clerk of Court and appointing social work trainees is not feasible due to budgetary constraints.

Former German minister of justice visits the children’s home
Last October 9 and 10, Prof. Herta Daubler-Gmelin MP, the former minister of justice of Germany came to visit the Preda Homes for Boys and Girls and pledged her support for their rights and all legal actions to bring criminals in the sex industry wherever they may be.

A life-long advocate of human rights especially for sexually abused girls, Prof. Herta Daubler-Gmelin was a keynote speaker at the Manila international conference to promote the ratification of and support for the International Criminal Court in Asia. Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. was also a speaker. He has shown his deep concern for children victimized in the sex industry and in prison. The chief justice has been the moving force to promote a more compassionate and human application of the law for children in conflict with the law.

Combating child pornography on the Internet

Last September, the Preda child protection team presented evidence during a Senate hearing on child pornography on the Internet. They advocated that the Senate consider legislation to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to use blocking technology to stop the passage of child pornography through their server machines like British Telecoms is doing.

On October 22, Fr. Shay was invited to Hong Kong by Microsoft to join a round-table discussion on the same subject. Leading law enforcement people were there, including the US ambassador to Cambodia and other prestigious participants. Fr. Shay pointed out that considering Microsoft has its windows operating system on 90% of the world’s computers, it could bundle an active blocking software that the user could activate among other ideas.

He suggested that Microsoft offer a prize for the creation of computer play station video game that would teach the users the rights of the child and how the exploitation and abduction of children could be prevented. This would be more beneficial than games that teach young people how to kill, maim and abuse human beings.

Global awareness tour

Also in September, Mr. Alex Hermoso traveled on a similar mission in Germany where he presented the fair trade aspect of the work of Preda and researched with Dritte Welt Partners (DWP), our partner in Ravensberg, the possibilities of getting an international organic certificate for Philippine mango farmers. Preda hopes to export fresh organic mangoes to Germany in the coming years.

Last October 15 to 17, Fr. Shay was invited by Masao Tagaya of the Kofu Sheltered Workshop on a global awareness seminar in Japan. He visited the Japanese cities of Kofu and Matsumoto.

A life-long advocate of human rights especially for sexually abused girls, Prof. Herta Daubler-Gmelin was a keynote speaker at the Manila international conference to promote the ratification of and support for the International Criminal Court in Asia. Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. was also a speaker. He has shown his deep concern for children victimized in the sex industry and in prison. The chief justice has been the moving force to promote a more compassionate and human application of the law for children in conflict with the law.

Combating child pornography on the Internet

Last September, the Preda child protection team presented evidence during a Senate hearing on child pornography on the Internet. They advocated that the Senate consider legislation to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to use blocking technology to stop the passage of child pornography through their server machines like British Telecoms is doing.

On October 22, Fr. Shay was invited to Hong Kong by Microsoft to join a round-table discussion on the same subject. Leading law enforcement people were there, including the US ambassador to Cambodia and other prestigious participants. Fr. Shay pointed out that considering Microsoft has its windows operating system on 90% of the world’s computers, it could bundle an active blocking software that the user could activate among other ideas.

He suggested that Microsoft offer a prize for the creation of computer play station video game that would teach the users the rights of the child and how the exploitation and abduction of children could be prevented. This would be more beneficial than games that teach young people how to kill, maim and abuse human beings.

Global awareness tour

Also in September, Mr. Alex Hermoso traveled on a similar mission in Germany where he presented the fair trade aspect of the work of Preda and researched with Dritte Welt Partners (DWP), our partner in Ravensberg, the possibilities of getting an international organic certificate for Philippine mango farmers. Preda hopes to export fresh organic mangoes to Germany in the coming years.

Last October 15 to 17, Fr. Shay was invited by Masao Tagaya of the Kofu Sheltered Workshop on a global awareness seminar in Japan. He visited the Japanese cities of Kofu and Matsumoto.

During the recent visit the situation of Japanese sex tourists going to the Philippines was raised by the audience and Fr. Shay gave an explanation of the current situation. His main talk was on the sexual abuse of children in the international sex tourism industry and the imprisonment of street children in sub-human conditions with adult criminals in Philippines jails.

The brief but very successful visit of Fr. Shay in Japan was also made possible by the help of Mrs. Hashimoto of Kofu City, Mr. Oykawa of Matsumoto City and Mr. Yoshioka Shiro of Tokyo.

After his successful trip in Japan, Fr. Shay then went to Germany in October and continued the mission of Mr. Hermoso and helped launch and promote new mango drinks in tetra packs with DWP in Austria. He gave presentations on the work of Preda to 200 higher level students in Heidelberg about the child rescue work of Preda. He also spoke at the annual conference of Vom Fass, the franchise that creates and distributes high quality wines, vinegar and liqueurs. They have agreed to take on the Preda mango liqueur and use the mango puree in their products. They will support the Preda project to indigenous people and environmental protection.

Environmental Concerns

Last month, hundreds of people were killed and properties and crops worth millions were destroyed by three successive typhoons that hit the Philippines and brought mud slides and floods. These are a direct result of the rich political families logging the forests with impunity. There is only 13% of the Philippine rain forests remaining. In 1909, the island nation was 80% covered. This is the greatest single lost to the nation. Rich families who control the political process and are working with the International global corporations are responsible for the environmental disasters.

Preda is working with the Indigenous people to help them protect themselves from the rich land grabbers getting their ancestral lands and forest domain. Organizing and facilitating meeting between the tribal leaders and the military that harass them on behalf of the land grabbers is a frequent activity of Preda .

The wealthy elite want to cut and sell the trees and turn the land into cattle farms to supply the fast food industry that is causing so many health problems among children and adults. Every year, Preda through its Fair Trade Department, works with small farmers and the indigenous people to plant as many as 2000 trees.

Caring for street children, Preda presents at the Vatican

A new bishop, Very Reverend Florentino Lavarias, was recently installed in the Diocese of Iba, Zambales. Last October 22, Preda helped organize an exhibit of the works of non-government and people’s organizations in Olongapo and Zambales. Preda looks forward to a close working relationship with the Diocese to promote the rights of children and youth, women and indigenous people.

 

Following this, Fr. Shay was invited to the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People to the First European Meeting for the Pastoral Care of Street Children. Fr. Shay presented the Philippine national situation on street children and the problem of sexually abused children in sex tourism. The gathering included experts from all continents and representatives from the European dioceses to assist their pastoral planning.

This followed the participation of Preda in the Bangkok World Congress on Tourism where Fr. Shay presented a paper on sex tourism and children and facilitated the round table discussion. The Preda recommendations were warmly received and nine out of 12 were eventually adopted by the congress as reported on the Vatican web site (www.vatican.va).

Education as a means of empowerment

The Public Education Team of Preda has continued non-stop its urgent and important preventive education work on child rights, drug abuse and HIV-AIDS. They facilitated over 130 seminars and workshops and reached 13,500 participants in schools, colleges and communities throughout the nearby provinces in 2004.

 

In order to assist the vocational training for the older girls in the Preda Home for Girls, the team is now presenting seminars on environmental protection and waste management to the schools together with their seminars on children’s rights. The colorful foil drink bags popular in the school canteens are an environmental hazard but can be turned into attractive carrier bags by the girls in the Preda Home, by their un-employed mother and by the women’s livelihood sewing groups. The making of the bags and marketing them to the World Shops in Europe is the work of the Fair Trade Department. The project is giving good earnings to the senior girls at Preda and income for the women.

The Preda-Akbay Theater Group participated in this work and conducted youth training seminars in social theater to many groups of youth including former youth prisoners from the Baguio city Jail who traveled to Preda for a three-day workshop. They are now making their own social awareness presentations in Baguio City.

The Preda-Akbay Theater Group was invited this year to Australia where they stayed from November 6th to 20th and performed during a conference organized by Fr. Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets. Mr. Hermoso led the tour. He and Fr. Shay who also went to Australia made a joint presentation at the conference.

While in Germany and Austria, Fr. Shay also discussed the possibility that the Preda-Akbay Theatre Group would go on tour in Germany and Austria in June. The special celebration of DWP in Ravensberg is on June 11th. They will open a new office and warehouse for fair trade. The theater group was also invited to Ireland in May.

International Human Rights Day

On the 56th anniversary of International Human Rights Day last December 10, over one hundred youth, children and staff of Preda hired buses and went to Manila and joined hundreds more to hold a rally to promote the respect for human rights especially the rights of children. The children carried banners, flags and placards demanding an end to child abuse and exploitation.

On this same day in Germany, officials of the city of Weimar celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Weimar Human Rights Award by inviting past recipients of the award, including Fr. Shay who received the award in 2000, to a human rights conference. Fr. Shay presented a speech on globalisation and children which is on the Preda website (www.preda.org). Ms. Claudia Roth MP of the German Commission on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid and Dr. Eckart Klein were the main speakers.

German sex mafia suspect to be arrested and tried

It was announced that a German Court near Bremen has issued an international arrest warrant for a German national living in Olongapo City and his two Swiss cronies. He is closely linked to the sex mafia exploiting children and women in the Philippines and is accused of framing with false charges innocent people for kidnapping and extortion. The German authorities are determined to bring this gang to justice.

He tried and failed to block the awarding of the Weimar Human Rights Award to Fr. Shay in 2000 by making false accusations that have been categorically proven false and fabricated. It is hoped that the arrest warrant for criminal activities and human rights violations will be served soon and he and his cronies will be arrested in the Philippines and brought to trial in Germany.

International solidarity

Volunteers and interns from Europe and Canada are a big help to the Preda work. Erik Van Ness of the Dutch organisation Kapatiran Foundation was with us for five weeks. Anita Ronnqvist and Therese Blomback, social work students from a Swedish University were with us for a few weeks to learn about the programs and projects of Preda. They joined the Preda social and outreach workers in their jail visits, went with the social workers to the street children and brought them to the beach and out for a meal. All these to give them respect, attention and to show them and the local community that they are valuable and important. The volunteers also joined the various activities of the girls and joined them going to swimming pool, the beach and to the market. Mathias Klasen from Germany is active in the Home for Boys, organizing various activities with them especially a basketball league. Martha Grace Archibald from Canada, Linda Dommelen from The Netherlands, Mathias Klasen and Jana Monica Schrempp from Germany will be with us for the next several months and are actively participating in the on-going work of Preda.

With Christmas fast approaching, we appeal once again to your kindness and generosity to reach out with us and help many more children. This we believe is what Christmas is all about.

When Jesus told us to find him in the prison, he said we will find him in the innocent children behind bars. Jesus said, “As long as you did it to one of these little ones, you did it to me.”

We wish you a peaceful and blessed Christmas.

Fr. Shay, the staff and children at Preda

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