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PREDA NEWSLETTER August 1999

August 2, 1999 · 

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Summer Camps and Sports Fest

The big event for all the youth and children in the PREDA recovery and development programs was the summer camp. It was held at a beach with good facilities, beautiful weather and plenty of sports, games and group educational sessions. One hundred participants attended the three-day experience.

One answer to the problem of youth people falling into drugs and vice is to help them to organize themselves. The PREDA youth development programme has been training youth leaders and organizers throughout the city and province. They in turn are getting their friends and schoolmates to join the youth service organization through which they spread the message about children’s rights, warn about the dangers of child labor, drug abuse and AIDS.

A group of twenty-five children and youth from the PREDA programmes joined a provincial sports meeting and came back with medals and prizes galore and were as proud as punch with their achievements.

From among the Filipino-American youth in our human development programme, brothers Jason and Jacob Snow won the championships for chess and table tennis respectively.

A special two-day summer camp was held in a forested resort for the young children of the PREDA recovery programme for victims of sexual abuse. Participating youngsters were twelve years old and below but mostly they are 6 to 8 years old. The program included forest walks, spiritual formation sessions, bible reflections, games galore and lots of fun.

While so many of the children are doing good in school, overcoming the effects of the abuse there are new cases coming in every week or so. A 16-year old victim of rape, Jennifer, was admitted to the PREDA children’s home six weeks ago. She gave birth at a local hospital a month later. Her abuser was her own father. She was so traumatized that she could not care for the baby and it was given to a special child care center of infants. Slowly, Jennifer is recovering .

Legal Victory
Those of you who follow the trials and tribulations of PREDA in fighting off the retaliation attacks of suspected paedophiles and their supporters will be glad to hear that one of our tormentors and black propagandists, Hartmut “Harry” Joost, a German national has been formally charged in court with obstruction of justice. It has taken us one year to bring this to court. Along the way, it seems that certain payments facilitated the dismissal of the case and we had to work hard to have it reinstated.

To help his convicted paedophile friend Australian national Victor Fitzgerald (jailed 8 to 17 years), whom we brought to justice for abusing children on his yacht, Joost lured away a young 14-year old witness, who at the time was recovering from abuse at PREDA childrens home, had her adopted and got her to sign a document saying that PREDA forced her to lie during the trial of Fitzgerald.

Not only that, but Mr. Joost has a charmed life when it comes to certain prosecutors in Olongapo. Joost was charged before the court with falsification of papers and thievery in 1983 by his employer. However, he miraculously persuaded the city prosecutor to withdraw the charges. The judge did not agree and now the provincial prosecutor, a good and honest prosecutor who never takes bribes, has been able to reinstate the charges against Joost. If found guilty, he will be jailed and later deported after serving sentence.

PREDA filed defamation and libel charges against Joost and his group of paedophiles for putting defamatory statements against us on their internet web page. The evidence of this is huge but a less than trustworthy prosecutor ruled that their may be no case because we ourselves could have broken into the webpage and put the defamatory material there ourselves. We are appealing this ruling before the State prosecutor. But you can understand how difficult it is to get justice under this system. Not only for the many victims of child abuse but even to protect ourselves from the paedophiles attacks.

Victory was finally achieved in the case against the abuser of Anna, one of our children. After a year of court hearings, he was convicted last 25 May and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

We want to thank all of you who sent letters of appeal to the Secretary of Justice in Manila to do something about the little 7-year-old girl abused by her half-brother and the house boy. The adopting father did nothing to help her. Your letters have resulted in action from the Secretary of justice. He ordered that charges of child neglect be filed against the father for allowing the abuse to go on unhindered.

The Fair trade activities were many during the past two months. Our General manager. Programme directors Merle Hermoso and her husband Alex, co-founders of PREDA having been here since the start – 25 years ago, went to a Fair Trade conference in Italy. There they introduced a new product from PREDA – Ink cartridges – for the computer printers. Here at PREDA we are working with a local partner, remanufacturing these empty cartridges so they are like new. The older girls who have finished their therapy and are now going to school are finding part-time work in the recycling of the cartridges. Now they have extra money to help their sisters go to school and stay away form the brothels.

Our two volunteers from North Wales, Jamie Lee and Cristopher Jones, completed eleven months at PREDA helping in every way they could. They left for home last week and are carrying on the work there selling the PREDA Ink cartridges.

Saving the Throwaway Children of the Philippines

Eleven months ago, when volunteers Chris Jones and Jamie Lee came to Olongapo City, Philippines to help out at the PREDA Center for children’s rights they were not expecting to work as undercover detectives finding the ‘throwaway children’ enslaved in the city’s brothels, bars and clubs.

Not only were they able to meet and talk with these exploited children, they also gathered vital information and evidence, and helped Father Shay Cullen, an Irish Columban missionary and his social workers to rescue the children and give them a new start in life and bring their abusers to justice.

PREDA – ‘People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance Foundation Inc.’ — was established by Father Shay Cullen and his co-workers in 1974 as a project to save street children and drug dependents from the death squads who shot them as a warning to others.

It provided sanctuary, therapy, reconciliation and education as a way out of poverty and the misery of life on the streets.

Soon the PREDA Center was helping the sexually abused and prostituted children and campaigning world wide against the exploitation of children in the sex industry of South East Asia.

To help reduce poverty, support the children, pay legal costs and run the campaigns, the PREDA Center does not wholly depend on donations. There are self-help employment projects. By supporting Fair Trade livelihood projects in the towns and villages, hundreds are employed and the products are exported and families stay together and prosper. The families make handicrafts, the cooperatives produce dried fruits and there are remanufactured ink cartridges for computer printers that save the environment , save money and provide jobs with just earnings. What Chris and Jamie found too were that hundreds of children, victims of poverty, who were enslaved in the child prostitution industry that attracts sex tourists from many countries including the United Kingdom. They set out to do something about it.

Jenny, a 14-year old runaway from poverty and family troubles, was working in the Cartunes, a sleazy sex bar, financed by a British national. The two sleuths, Chris and Jamie, posing as casual tourists made contact with Jenny in the bar where she was being sold to customers for sexual abuse.

They were able to persuade her that the PREDA Children’s Home could help her escape from the child prostitution business, give her legal protection and send her to school. She took the offer and agreed to quit there and then. She left the bar, met the PREDA social workers waiting nearby and the rescue was on. The bar manager suspected that Jamie and Chris were not ordinary customers. As soon as they got up to leave and were heading towards the getaway car the manager’s guards came running to bring her back.

Chris and Jamie with Fr. Shay and the rescue team jumped aboard their vehicle and were speeding away when the guards took up the pursuit in their car. Child prostitution is illegal in the Philippines and if Jenny were to testify, the bar would be out of business and operators could face long jail terms. It was a risky and tense operation but there was no other way to save these children.

Twisting through the narrow streets lined with neon lit sex clubs and bars, they lost their pursuers and made their escape. Today Jenny is happily recovering at the PREDA Center for abused children and going to school having been reconciled with her parents.

Breaking a child trafficking ring
Then there was the case of Madam Lydia, a child trafficker and pimp that offered the intrepid detectives children for prostitution. By playing along with her evil suggestions they let her talk about how she could supply children as young as fifteen. With a hidden tape recorder they gathered the evidence proving that this was trafficking children for prostitution.

They agreed to meet at her house in the suburbs the following day and bring their wealthy customers who would pay for the children. This time, together with Father Shay, dressed in baseball cap and dark glasses, and Robert his undercover assistant they posed as shady representatives of sex tourists who wanted to buy the children.

They brought along a video camera and taped Madam Lydia offering minors for sale. It was agreed that before the deal would be made the children had to be present. The trap was set and so the next day when the PREDA undercover team retuned there were two young girls who madam Lydia introduced as 14 and 15 years old. The children too admitted their ages. She offered them for prostitution and her associate took the marked money. At that moment the trap was sprung.

On a pre-arranged signal the police suddenly arrived and arrested the child trafficker. Her associate ran into the back of the house locked the door of the bathroom, broke a window and escaped. The children were taken into the protection of a child care center. The notorious trafficker now faces trial and years behind bars.

Marketing remanufactured Ink Cartridges

Besides many other operations that found the throwaway children Chris and Jamie became involved in helping to set up a marketing programme for the sale of the remanufactured ink cartridges. The proceeds of sales will help the children go to school and even provide summer jobs for the older girls. They too can help their sisters and brothers study and stay safe from the pimps and traffickers who would enslave them in brothels and bars of Olongapo city. Now back in Britain, Jamie and Chris are carrying on the work marketing these quality ink cartridges of the PREDA Children’s center and promoting the campaign for Children’s rights.

Every Best Wish

Fr. Shay Cullen, MSSC

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