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NEWSLETTER September-October 2004

October 3, 2004 · 

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Dear friends, defenders of children,

It’s been a while since you received a newsletter from us at PREDA. We have to reduce costs. We need the money for more children being released from the prisons by the courts and being sent to us. We cannot refuse them.

Judge Fortunito Madrona and Judge Leoncia Dimagiba and other court personnel of the Paranaque Regional Trial Court on their visit to Preda. With them in picture is Fr. Shay.

Judge Fortunito Madrona and Judge Leoncia Dimagiba and other court personnel of the Paranaque Regional Trial Court on their visit to Preda. With them in picture is Fr. Shay.

We are as busy as ever helping the victims and working daily to stop the evil at its roots. We are lobbying with senators, congress people and members of the judiciary to have greater concern and compassion for abused children. It is starting to bring results.

There are now 34 child prisoners released to us and many more to the custody of their parents or other youth centres. This is a big breakthrough and shows the changing practice of the Philippine judiciary, a result of our campaign to the Supreme Court for the release of the children.

In his letter to Preda dated August 2, Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. welcomed the success of the Supreme Court’s new rules of court and circulars instructing judges to exercise compassion and restorative justice rather than imprisoning youth. This is a huge and important historical development in Philippine jurisprudence.


Letter writing campaign to EU

We thank all who joined our letter writing campaign to the European Commission and Parliament to support the Philippine Supreme Court in their task of reforming and strengthening the judicial system. The EU granted more than two million euros to the educational project to be directed by the Supreme Court’s Project Management Office headed by Evelyn Dumdum-Toledo.

Some of the released boys at Preda leading new lives free and happy.

Some of the released boys at Preda leading new lives free and happy.

In the letter, the Chief Justice also expressed hope and expectations that the Supreme Court’s directives will be implemented nation-wide. The Chief Justice is a person of great integrity who was himself falsely accused by a group of irresponsible congress people whose family business interests were affected by the Supreme Court’s decision. They made accusations to have him impeached and deposed and a judge favourable to their business interest replace him. The Chief Justice weathered the storm with courage and strength and wide public support. The scions of the wealthy were defeated in their malicious and vindictive efforts. Chief Justice Davide is the justice most responsible for the positive change in judicial practice befitting children in prison.

The new rules of court and court directives have resulted in a more compassionate and restorative approach to the administration of justice to minors in conflict with the law. Many children have been released as a result. Those with suspended sentences pending charges or who have no family to take them into custody are sent to Preda. Then we work to have their cases resolved or dismissed.

With the help of a very generous partner and donor, we can now lease a property in the countryside to accommodate more children being released from the prisons to start a new life in freedom and happiness.

In recent weeks, several family court judges and their court staff have visited the Preda home for the rescued boys and abused girls. They were inspired to see them safe and happy. They now know that a new life is possible for these young people.

In the Preda Homes there are no guards needed to keep the youth and children at the Preda Center. Even after a hard life and months and years in terrible prison conditions, the boys have no desire to run away from Preda back to the streets.

Children are not criminals

The visiting judges and court personnel realize that this is clear evidence that they are not criminals and that restorative justice really works. The change in the young boys is remarkable, that’s because they are treated with respect, dignity and affirmation and taught spiritual values. We also have non-formal education and occupational therapy through which they earn pocket money and that will lead to a job for their future.

Boys at PREDA during a birthday party

Boys at PREDA during a birthday party


Home for abused girls

In the home for abused girls, there are several new children who found refuge from rape and abuse. There are twenty-five children now. Most of the girls are back at school and doing well at their studies despite the depression and hardship that they recently left behind.

Others continue to bravely testify in court against their abusers and endure the harsh cross-examination that attempts to prove them liars. There are no child-friendly courts with TV cameras to protect the child witness from the angry stares of their abusers in court. The Preda social worker is there to give support, testifying is always a painful ordeal. Yet they are determined to have justice despite the difficulties.

We have frustrations too when the child and Preda social worker travel four hours by bus or van to the court just to be told it is postponed. This happens frequently with our children. They are frustrated and our expenses are wasted.

Those children at Preda who are unable to attend school have non-formal education at the Preda Center and join other learning activities. They visit the Missionaries of Charity Center for abandoned elderly women and babies and spend the day caring for them. They are also learning sewing.

Those rescued from the sex clubs and bars where they were prostituted to local and foreign customers are doing very well and two have completed testifying against their American and Australian traffickers and the pimps that enslaved them. Emma is still testifying and will finish in two weeks.

We have bought two more sewing machines for them so that they can learn to sew the shopping bags made from recycled foil bags. These we can sell to the fair trade shops in Europe and the young girls will have pocket money and even a good job when they graduate from Preda.

Rescue team in action

The Preda rescue team was called out last week to save two small children who were physically abused. We were shocked at the man’s cruelty. Tests showed they were not sexually abused. They are now safe and secure with a relative.

Girls at Preda with volunteers from the Spain-based SETEM

Girls at Preda with volunteers from the Spain-based SETEM

Sex bar rescue

The rescue team also went to Angeles City about two hours drive from Olongapo to follow up a report of abducted minors. The tip off pointed to the Bunny Ranch sex club and when we approached, we saw one of the young teenagers outside being offered to customers. Immediately, the pimps noticed us approaching, the girl was told to run and hide.

We went straight in. The dark club was lit with purple lights. Twenty young girls were in bikinis on the small stage on display and swaying to the loud disco music. Foreign sex tourists were sizing them up.

Naty, the Preda social worker, hurried through to the back and the team followed. She quickly pulled open the curtains to the private cubicles looking for the minor. There were a few brief screams as a couple was disturbed in a moment of intimacy. The child was found in the dressing room. Two more young girls were found in a nearby apartment waiting to be handed over to the customers. They are now safe at Preda.

Fr. Shay with some of the girls at Preda

Fr. Shay with some of the girls at Preda

Sex tourist arrested

The Preda investigation team was tipped off about the hideout of a British paedophile and child rapist suspect who is wanted by the police in Angeles City, two hours from Preda. He was arrested, got off after the prosecutor dropped the charges for reasons unknown. The policewoman got that bad decision reversed and an arrest warrant was issued but he had disappeared. Preda then led the police to his hideout at the sex resort of Puerto Galera and videotaped the arrest and detention. We are monitoring the case as he might buy his way out again.

We have also been testifying in court every week against a police superintendent and his men for the manner they arrested, beat and brutalised Fr. Shay and a Preda staff Lowell Maglaqui and robbed Preda director Alex Hermoso of his radio and camera last June 1996. Justice is slow in the Philippines!

Suspected British paedophile arrested with the help of Preda

Suspected British paedophile arrested with the help of Preda

It happened during a picket mounted by Preda against the dangerous electric power cables being erected outside the children’s home at Preda by the National Power Corporation. These can cause cancer. All other appeals and protests were ignored and so Preda took over one electric pylon. The police broke up the peaceful picket in a brutal way and illegally arrested Fr. Shay and Lowell. Preda charged the police with violations of human rights. The case still continues eight years on.

Campaign against child pornography

The most telling aspect of a new Unicef-commissioned report on child pornography in the Philippines to which Preda made a significant contribution was the absence of a single official police report on arrests of the perpetrators. The Social Welfare Department reported 13 victims. On the same day, 23 September, Fr. Shay made a report to the Senate committee investigating the extent of child pornography saying that there are thousands of children victimised by pornographers. The foreign paedophiles from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom and Ireland in the sex resort of Puerto Galera, Mindoro Island use pornographic videos and images taken from the internet to teach children as young as eight years how to perform sex acts on them. Little has been done to stop it.

Fr. Shay told the Senate committee that every picture of a child being abused is evidence of a crime and that the child is abused every time the picture is transmitted over the internet. These are freely distributed around the Philippines and examples were given to the senators. They were appalled and shocked at the explicit images and declared it a wicked and terrible crime against children.

Fr. Shay asked the committee head, Senator Jamby Madrigal, to summon the heads of the internet server corporations to answer why they continued to allow child pornography to pass through their servers. The Philippine Internet Service Organization (PISO) makes millions of pesos daily from providing an unchecked and insecure electronic doorway to the world-wide internet where child pornography can be accessed by their customers. PISO declined to respond to the questions of Fr. Shay and the researchers. The blocking technology is available for free as deployed by British Telecom and other ethical server corporations.

Vatican invites Preda to World Congress

The Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism was held last July 5 in Bangkok, Thailand. Fr. Shay was invited to participate and present a paper and facilitate a round table discussion on the exploitation of children in the sex tourism industry. The World Congress was organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People under the direction of His Eminence Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao and organised by Very Rev. Archbishop Agostino Marchetto.

Fr. Shay meets with Dr. Francesco Frangialli, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization.

Fr. Shay meets with Dr. Francesco Frangialli, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization.

Dr. Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation made an important speech and Dr. Norberto Tonini, president of the International Bureau of Social Tourism spoke about development and social tourism. Fr. Shay spoke about the spread of sex tourism and the need for the Church to increase its response and double its efforts to protect the children.

Fr. Shay was requested to submit recommendations to the congress as to what could be done to help the faithful and the Church leadership respond to the exploitation of millions of children as prostitutes in tourism and on the streets. Nine of 12 of these recommendations were adopted in the final resolutions of the congress. It didn’t end there, to implement the resolutions a follow-up meeting was immediately organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People.

Fr. Shay and some of the participants to the 6th World Congress on the Pastoral care of Tourism.

Fr. Shay and some of the participants to the 6th World Congress on the Pastoral care of Tourism.

This October 25 and 26, Fr. Shay is invited by the Pontifical Council to Rome to make presentations to the First European Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Children of the Road and submit a report on present apostolates for street children in the Philippines and recommended how the children can best be helped.

Our heartfelt thanks to our friends who donate to help the work of Preda and who are God’s partners helping us protect and save many children. The work goes on daily, saving lives and stopping abuse. Your donation helps send these children to school and supports them daily. We need your continued help and sponsorship of the children. You can send your donations to the Columban Fathers or to The Children’s Fund (Allied Irish Bank, Stephen St. Sligo, Ireland, Sorting Code: 937258 Account Number: 13908043)

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Shay, the staff and children at Preda

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