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Preda Newsletter December 2006

December 3, 2006 · 

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Dear friends,

The Christmas Season is here already and we are busy planning Christmas parties, day trips and beach outings for the many children we have rescued from prison, brothels and abusive situations. The number of children saved and brought into the protection and recovery homes in the past six months have doubled.

There are now 54 girls from the ages of 8 to 17 years old and our community in the two homes for girls and boys is twice the number that we planned for. There are 64 boys saved from jails. The youngest is 7 years old. However, the additional donations from dedicated supporters like you and earnings from the Fair trade sales is sufficient to support these additional children so far. We never say no to any child in need. The Lord working through good people like you provides.

However the additional number is a big pressure on our facilities and overcrowding is a problem. We are actively seeking additional funds to buy land and build new homes. The government abandoned building and land has not been released to us and now we have to get our own.

The increased number of children we are helping is an evidence of success. We are sad so many children are abused and abandoned but we are happy we can rescue and help so many of them. The Preda human rights and public education teams have brought a new awareness to the public about children’s rights and that Preda help is at hand for abused children. They themselves are coming to us for help. All are doing well and the enclosed story of the incredible twins is evidence of this. We are trying to stop the corrupt pay off system whereby by local officials arrange a payment from the abuser to parents and take a cut for themselves. This allows the abuser to go free and the child and others left vulnerable and at risk.

Legal battle continues. The Preda legal officer Robert Garcia is pursuing 35 legal actions against the abusers of the girls in our care. He is working to have the criminal charges against 36 of the rescued boys dismissed. He won 7 cases so far. He is also coordinating the defense of Preda staff and myself in two libel cases brought against us by the sex mafia. They never stop trying to bring us down and hinder our work. We need your prayers because of the death threats against us too. There are many assassinations of journalists and human rights workers in the Philippines nowadays.

Our outspokenness against sex tourism scares away the customers and saves the children from abuse but angers the sex club operators and local politicians. Sky News made two separate reports on our efforts to bring the British pedophiles to trial. In Ireland, the Sunday Tribune ran full page stories about Irish pedophiles, two weeks running on our efforts to catch the criminals. All good publicity to develop awareness of the plight of thousands of abused children.

Children saved from prostitution. Five girls, 14 to 16 years old were rescued from child prostitution recently when they were being sold by pimps on the street. Their parents are impoverished and the children were only eating once a day and that’s a handful of rice and a bit of fish. They were starving. But after the rescue they are now recovering well at Preda and can soon get back to school and a have better life. Preda is also helping their parents. The Preda surveillance and rescue team also conducted undercover investigations into the sex bars of Olongapo and Angeles cities and found young girls being prostituted there. There are about 5000 young women and some minors prostituted in the Olongapo – Subic area according to government records at the social hygiene clinics.

The outreach team is helping the street children. There are 72 of them in the programme and they are being helped to get back to school and have a good decent meal everyday at the public park. We hope to have a residential home for them by July 2007. In the meantime, daily contact, education sessions and beach outings keep them happy and out of big trouble with the police. They get a sense of their dignity and value so they want now to get off the streets and into school. More kids are joining this programme.

A sad story. A sad episode recently was the order of a judge in the Iba Court in Zambales that granted custody of one of our children to the power of the abuser. In a court action to get the child out of Preda protective custody, the suspected pedophile fought a legal battle for the child. She is only 15, and was very afraid to go back to the house where she was abused. But the judge, perhaps under political pressure, ruled against us and put the child in moral jeopardy of further sexual molestation. However, we pressured the family of the child to bring her to her auntie’s house in another province. We are monitoring to see if she did it. You can protect children by writing a letter of concern about wrong judgments like this to; The Court Administrator, Supreme Court, Padre Faura, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The non-stop seminars and training for government officials is bringing positive results and there has been great advances in our advocacy work these last few weeks. The Reader’s Digest Asian edition had a big story on the jail rescue project, there have been six national television programmes on the work of Preda recently and two reports on local TV. This centered on the effects of US military coming into the Philippines and abusing women and children.

A US Marine was recently convicted to 40 years of imprisonment for a rape of a young woman here in Subic Bay. A historic first ever conviction of a US sailor. Three other US marines with him were acquitted. It is likely that the Court of Appeals will dismiss the case and release him in a few weeks. The case put the media spotlight on the successful (1983 to 1993) campaign of Preda to protect women and children from sexual exploitation by US servicemen and sex tourists and convert the US bases to high-tech economic areas which happened in 1992. There are factories there now.

The ITV/CNN TV news reports in 2005 and 2006 exposed the evil abuse of children in jail and I helped set up the undercover filming. The world-wide broadcast helped pass the Juvenile Justice Bill. This new law stops police putting children in jail and instead sends them to homes like Preda. Now we are full. I am being sued for libel by one of the suspected pedophiles shown in those TV reports. It’s a persecution of sorts but that’s expected in our work.

Last 8 December, I joined the Preda rescue team to help rescue 20 workers from Zambales, women and children, from a labor camp in far off Batangas where they were being forced to work without pay at gun point and lived like animals. With the special Anti-human trafficking police unit we sped to the rescue and had the traffickers arrested and charged and the exploited workers were released and cared for. They endured hardship and exploitation but are happily home for Christmas. We gave them food, clothes and money to help them recover.

Preda youth won an award. Pia, our recovered child and now a young woman was awarded an International Prize for her courage and resilience and advocacy against child abuse. Enduring all the hardships being exploited and abused, she has now turned into a very vocal and powerful speaker for human rights. She has brought her abusers to jail, and now campaigns for children’s rights. She just came home from an advocacy tour in Japan where she was given the prestigious prize. Pia is in college now studying to be a nursing assistant.

We are so busy joining rallies for woman’s rights. We had bus loads of youth going to the Senate to lobby for the passing of the Anti-prostitution law. This past week we had a big celebration for Human Rights day. The Preda team organized medical and dental clinics for the poor, forums for the youths and press interviews for the general public to know more about the issues. I could tell you much more but there is no time and space. But we are fighting on for justice and thank you for your solidarity and support.

My book Passion and Power is available by mail. We earn 6 Euros per book. Please give the book as a gift for Christmas and tell your friends. If you want copies mailed to you please write to: Hughes and Hughes Book Shop, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland or phone from outside Ireland – 003531 2020010 – and in Ireland with phone number – 01 2020010.

Peace and Blessings for the Christmas and New Year.

Fr. Shay Cullen and the children and Preda team.

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