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PREDA NEWSLETTER June 2000

June 2, 2000 · 

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Now reaching more than 11,000 intelligent readers committed to justice and truth and Human Rights

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Many many thanks for your continued support and solidarity with our work protecting the rights of abused and exploited children.

The Childhood for Children Programme

Since the last Newsletter, there have been many interesting and exciting events here at the PREDA Childhood for Children Center. There was a summer camp and sports meets, outings, beach parties, children graduating and going home happily reunited with their supportive parents, new children being admitted, some very young with severe traumas of abuse. After a few weeks there are remarkable changes taking place. One of our graduates now a child advocate attended an International Conference in Manila. The children joined other groups of children in nearby communities in tree planting activities.

The PREDA Children captured the 1st Runner-up position in the recently concluded Summer Sportsfest.

Nobel Peace Prize

PREDA’s and Fr. Shay’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize has been reported in the U.S. News and World Report, May 2000 ( a copy is enclosed ). We thank all of you who congratulated us on this nomination. We are very honored and send our thanks to Scottish MP Nigel Griffiths, the tireless campaigner for Human Rights who made the nomination.

Bettinhoe Media Award

PREDA was listed in the top prize finalists for the famous Bettinhoe because of the www.preda.org website and the PREDA international campaign for Human Rights using modern communications. The reach of the PREDA newsletter through the Internet at minimal cost is now over 11,000 influential people around the globe working for a better world for children. Many are heads of organizations and they are proud to join the PREDA campaigns. They write letters, send e-mails and are part of a global advocacy group that is helping to twart abusers and tyrants. They appeal to good people in authority to act decisively for children’s rights and in support of PREDA’s work.

In March, Fr. Shay was invited to Sweden by the association of World Shops to talk on campaign strategies. Over 2000 World Shops across Europe support the PREDA Fair Trade products and campaign for the end of child exploitation.

He joined Church agencies fighting child sex tourism in their “Guardian Angel” campaign held in International airports. There were press conferences in Vienna and Munich.

He also gave a public lecture in Sligo, Ireland with the help of the famous child rights advocate Sophia McColgan who visited the PREDA Children’s Home in 1998.

Peace Pole and Summer Congress 2000

There have been non-stop activities for the children at PREDA these past months. Last April, we had a beautiful ceremony with the planting of a Peace Pole. All the children and civic organizations attended. It was followed by the youth congress where over 145 young people attended from the PREDA Youth leadership and human development programme. The young people who had become community leaders are conducting community-based activities to combat child abuse, drug abuse and AIDS.

Fr. Shay and Mr. ALex Hermoso with community leaders planting the Peace Pole.

In 1999, 5.6 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide. In North America and Western Europe there are an estimated 74,000 people infected with HIV, in Southern Africa and Southern Asia there are 5,100,000 people living with this disease. Prevention through education is essential and the PREDA organized youth are most effective in persuading their peers that, “Loving faithfully is loving safely”. It’s a campaign for chastity, self-control and discipline based on respect for the self and the other.

The PREDA Youth leaders responsible for making the Summer Congress a huge success!

Continuous and Increasing Support

We received many enthusiastic responses by e-mail and handwritten letters supporting our stand for the victims of child abuse in response to the perplexing and puzzling support letter given by the Bishop of Iba, Zambales and 27 priests to Victor Fitzgerald, a convicted paedophile jailed here in Olongapo. Letters from international supporters were also sent to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Fitzgerald’s conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals last September 1999 and his sentence increased to 20 years. The court said that it was absurd that PREDA could have framed him up by influencing the witness victims to give false testimony. In fact, new evidence supports the court’s comment that money was involved in the the reversal of testimony by the victims. The jail visitors book shows regular visits to Fitzgerald by the victims and their relatives over crucial months.

The Columban Fathers in the Philippines released this statement : “The Northern District Council respects the decisions of the Philippine courts regarding the Fitzgerald case. We believe that justice was done. We respect the right of any Filipino citizen to disagree with a Philippine court decision.”

Last week the Olongapo court canceled the bail bond and issued an arrest warrant against a German bar operator accused by PREDA and the public prosecutor of obstruction of justice for
allegedly hiding away (through an adoption process) another child victim of Fitzgerald who was recovering at PREDA. He conducts a black propaganda campaign against PREDA by phone, fax and the internet. His wife is charged by the phone company for failing to pay Php 200,000 ($5,000) in unpaid phone bills.

Legal Harassment

Some members of the Olongapo paedophile support network have filed a total of 50 formal legal complaints against PREDA Staffers (Libel, Slander, Perjury, Kidnapping, Habeas Corpus, Child Abuse, Monetary claims, etc.). Thirty-three (33) of these have been thrown out by the public prosecutor or dismissed for lack of merit, no evidence, harassment, etc. The rest will soon be resolved. They use these formal complaints as black propaganda to discredit our work. The reverse is happening, more people are supporting PREDA and sending donations. The number of cases is evidence of malicious prosecution and we will bring charges against them.

PREDA Theater Group

Youth leaders are now being trained to form two musical drama groups to present a musical on the trafficking of children into sexual slavery. The group has been invited to present the musical from August 20th to October 10th to the World Exhibition in Hanover, Germany this year. After that, the group has been invited to tour in Germany and perhaps other countries in Europe. The musical is spreading awareness of the damage that the international sex tour and child prostitution industry is doing to our young people.

Escaped Canadian Paedophile Rearrested

Jean Guy Heroux, nicknamed ‘Shaggy’, a suspected paedophile has been arrested in Angeles City after four years on the run after he jumped bail in a child sexual abuse charge.

Heroux, a Canadian citizen is accused of sexually abusing a 6-year old child. The abuse was discovered on August 8, 1996 when a relative of the child found Heroux alone making the child perform a sexual act on himself. Heroux was renting a room in the small house of the victim’s parents in Angeles City about 60 kilometers from Olongapo.

The father of the victim, a tricycle driver worked for Heroux in a small home-based enterprise making cardboard clowns. In 1996, Heroux was arrested, charged and released on bail. He escaped and nothing was done.

The family of the victim appealed to PREDA to help them because they feared that Heroux might retaliate against them for bringing the charges. The PREDA team visited the family on several occasions, to learn all the details of the case and the habits of Heroux. Then, an operation to capture him was mounted.

The PREDA undercover team located the center of Heroux’s business in a remote barrio of Angeles City and pretended that they knew nothing of the charges against Heroux. They poised as new buyers of the cardboard toys and offered substantial cash down payment and a purchase contract to be signed by Mr. Heroux. Meetings were arranged by Heroux’s manager but Heroux never showed up to collect the bait.

After exhausting all lines of enquiry, PREDA gave up the chase but advised the father to continue his lookout. The vigilance worked. Heroux is now held in the Angeles City jail and the case will progress.

That’s all for now.

For more info, visit us at : www.preda.org
or e-mail us at : shaycullen@preda.org

Every Best Wish,

Fr. Shay, the staff and all the children

US NEWS REPORT

Fighting The Child Sex Trade
One priest’s battle to protect exploited kids

OLONGAPO, PHILIPPINES – Pia Agustin Corvera became a prostitute at the age of 9. An aunt who raised her in a Manila slum rented her to foreign men with Pia receiving 120 pesos-$3-for each encounter. After three years, according to a social worker’s report, she was sold to a visiting German pedophile. Today, the morose 16-year-old with a ravaged psyche and an uneasy smile has found refuge here in a therapeutic community for child victims of sexual abuse run by a 57-year-old Irish priest, the Rev. Shay Cullen. The tiny Filipino girl is slowly learning to trust again, and while understandably shy, she describes with brutal simplicity the sum of her experiences. Says Pia: “I felt like garbage.”

From Cape Town to Costa Rica-two emerging child sex hot spots-disparate factors are spurring demand and forcing growing numbers of children into prostitution. They include mounting Third World poverty, the rise of criminal mafias in Russia and Eastern Europe, the spread of sex tourism, and the Internet pornography boom. Fear of AIDS is driving men to seek younger partners in the mistaken belief that they are less likely to be infected. Interpol’s Agnes Fournier de Saint Maur, who tracks global child sex trends, says the demand comes not only from pedophiles but from men eager to push the envelope of carnal exploration. Until recently, the problem barely registered on the radar of international concern.

Today, passionate activists like Cullen have raised global awareness to the point where the United Nations and human-rights groups have made child protection an increasing priority. Some 21 nations have now passed laws to prosecute molesters for crimes committed overseas.

After decades of complacency, Philippine authorities-thanks in part to Cullen’s aggressive lobbying-are cracking down on foreigners drawn here by entrenched pedophile networks, rampant sex tourism, and a population of child prostitutes estimated by the United Nations at more than 60,000. Olongapo, former home of the huge United States naval base at Subic Bay, and Angeles City, where the U.S. Air Force operated a large base at Clark Field, each had a long-established vice trade involving underage girls and catering to American service personnel. After the U.S. military departed in 1992, aggressive marketing by Philippine red-light entrepreneurs turned Angeles and Olongapo into two of the Pacific region’s most rancid fleshpots.
Naval evasion. Cullen came here as a missionary in 1969, opened his PREDA Foundation for at-risk youngsters in 1974 (www.preda.org), and had his first jarring experience with child prostitution in July 1982, when nuns running a local health clinic found girls ages 9, 12, and 13 suffering from venereal disease. “The kids said they had been used by American sailors, but the naval authorities told us to keep quiet so they could catch the perpetrators,” Cullen recalls. But in dozens of cases, he charges, the Navy shipped out suspects to avoid prosecution. The coverup by U.S. and Philippine authorities sparked the outrage that drives Cullen’s relentless campaign, and the priest has received death threats and other intimidation attempts. He runs his residential foundation for 70 girls and boys, prowls the Olongapo and Angeles vice districts searching for underage prostitutes, lobbies for tougher laws, and raises funds.

His efforts have helped to convict dozens of men here and overseas. A 66-year-old Australian who sailed into Subic Bay with three Filipino children ages 4, 6, and 13 years, and moored within sight of PREDA and Cullen’s surveillance, is now serving eight to 17 years in a Philippine prison. Cullen is credited by Scotland Yard with tracking down two British pedophile fugitives hiding in Olongapo who were later convicted of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old London boy. Last February, Norwegian police said information from the priest helped them break up a ring bringing Filipino boys into the country.
One of Cullen’s most satisfying convictions was that of Pia’s abuser, who jumped bail in Manila and fled back to Germany, one of the 21 nations (including the United States) that permit domestic prosecution for child sex crimes committed abroad. The priest and the young victim traveled to Germany to testify, and the pedophile received a 31/2-year jail sentence.

Cullen’s work has earned him international recognition, and Nigel Griffiths, a member of the British Parliament, recently nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Says Griffiths: “He has done tremendous work against enormous odds and helped strengthen child protection laws around the world.” Yet for every child he helps, Cullen knows, there are countless other Pias still on the streets.

By Michael Satchell

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