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Preda Newsletter October 2005

October 3, 2005 · 

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Dear friends and defenders of children’s rights,

Children watch puppet presentation that is part of the preventive seminar.

Children watch puppet presentation that is part of the preventive seminar.

I write to thank all of you who have contributed generously to the work of saving and protecting children. I haven’t been able to write a frequently as before because the work is expanding rapidly. We have many significant successes in saving children from abusive situations and those children incarcerated in the filthy prisons and cells.

The children saved from brothels and abusive homes are recovering and overcoming the shock and trauma of being abused. Every morning, these children who were so depressed, defeated and hopeless are skipping and playing and are happily heading off to school in the knowledge that they have a new found dignity and self-confidence. Empowering and affirming children sexually and physically abused is at the heart of the recovery programme and the freedom from pain and depression through the emotional expression therapy is a joy to see. Without these special services these children would be at the mercy of their abusers who repeatedly abused them with impunity.

Maricel of the Preventive Education department uses visual aids to draw the children's attention.

Maricel of the Preventive Education department uses visual aids to draw the children's attention.

Changing attitudes

The most serious problem that we are addressing through our community education programme is the very wrong practice of local officials and parents making a compensation deal with the abuser. This is common practice to “settle” a complaint of child rape and molestation with money. Poor parents who don’t know what to do are advised and pressured by the police and community leaders to drop the case. The police or officials then get a percentage of the pay off by the paedophile. The child is forgotten as if she has no rights, no feelings and no need or desire for justice. That is what we are working hard to change. Both in the minds of the government officials and the parents. Thanks to an Irish government fund promoting human rights and child protection, we are able to bring a hard-hitting and effective seminar to hundreds of participants every month.

Preda seminars reached teachers, students and their parents, local government officials, church workers and indigenous peoples.

Preda seminars reached teachers, students and their parents, local government officials, church workers and indigenous peoples.

In the past nine months, the Preda Human Rights Education team has reached the hearts and minds and consciences (we hope ) of 2,627 local government officials. They are the first line of response to report of child asexual abuse in a community and they seldom know their duties and obligations. They tend to go for a cash settlement. By teaching the law and their true obligation and how to respond correctly, we give the direct solution.

They are advised to contact the Preda home for abused girls and get professional assistance. We offer them the residential protection of the child. This is essential when the child is ready and willing to file criminal charges against her abuser.

Marlyn receives he diploma from the university president

Marlyn receives he diploma from the university president

Teachers too are among the first trustworthy people that a grieving and hurting abused child will turn to especially when abused in her own home and cannot complain against her father. Not all mothers are willing to believe their child. The fear of scandal, legal consequences, shame and anger can block a mother from responding to the cries of her daughter. The education programme reached 1,192 teachers in the past five months. During the seminars and after, there have been several new disclosures of child abuse by the participants encouraged and enlightened by the presentations. Some children have been rescued as a result.

Child rescue
Franchesca, a 14-year-old niece of a teacher was reported to have been gang-raped by ten youth in Olongapo, a former military base town that had a huge sex industry that poisoned the culture and eroded respect for children and women until we campaigned successfully to have it shut down. November 22 is the anniversary. The child was frightened and intimidated and afraid of everyone.

Marlyn, our social worker, herself a former exploited child and now a graduate of our training programme, was able to persuade her to come to Preda for protection by telling her own life experience and how she overcame the trauma of being abused. Her graduation last March was a very happy day for all of us at Preda. Marlyn’s life shows that young women trapped in poverty and the sex trade can be freed and empowered to undertake a new life. She is one of many.

arlyn with Director Delia Jemenia, Under-Secretary Lourdes Balanon, both of DSWD, and Fr. Shay, on her graduation as a social worker.

arlyn with Director Delia Jemenia, Under-Secretary Lourdes Balanon, both of DSWD, and Fr. Shay, on her graduation as a social worker.

The Preda team also rescued a child who had been sexually abused since she was ten years old. That was settled for a compensation payment by the abuser for the equivalent of US$170 or 150euros. That’s all the value the adults put on the child. They were hostile and unwilling to allow the child be taken into care at Preda. We suspect that the abuser was a family member and we were right.

That is not all. Another Preda training team targets students, their parents and the general public to get their understanding and action to curb the abuse of children. This Preda team had reached 4,924 students and parents during the past six months. These seminars also succeed in encouraging participants to reveal cases of abuse they know about but were afraid to tell anyone. The work of rescuing and healing goes on and the education programme is changing attitudes and awaking minds and inspiring hearts to act for children.

We received many more invitations and Preda co-founder and programme director Alex Hermoso gave a rousing presentation seminar to the provincial government officials and showed them the videos of children in prison and the rescue work of Preda. Rotary clubs, church groups, missionaries and clergy have been reached by the Preda public speakers. The sexual abuse of children is now a more open topic and is widely discussed. Attitudes are changing and children are being saved. All this with the help of KinderNotHlife, Caritas Switzerland and Holland, and HEKS a Swiss church agency.

Joan interviews a minor in jail to facilitate his release, other minors wait for their turn.

Joan interviews a minor in jail to facilitate his release, other minors wait for their turn.

Children behind bars
The Preda campaign to release children in prisons with adults and rapists got a huge boost when the British television network ITN sent a team to Preda and we documented together the conditions in the jails. It was like the Hand of God opening the doors to the cells once hidden and barred to the public and allowing us inside to see the awful conditions. This is the secret that the world was not meant to see.

Officially at least 4,000 children sleep on the concrete floor with pedophiles forcing themselves on them. Most of the youth and children, some as young eight, have developed diseases, TB, boils, infections, sores and skin rashes and are malnourished and emaciated. Their daily food budget is 25 cents a day. One shocked viewer wrote to say “No civilised nation, no matter how poor, should allow this. I was most offended by the pervert who laughed and said he could have his pick of the boys.”

Since then the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology has been ordered to cover it all up by higher authorities and deny access to the public. The shame and disgrace that the television images brought to light were painful for some. The Philippine Senate pulled out (after 9 years) the long-forgotten comprehensive juvenile justice bill and moved it forward. Fr. Shay talked to the wives of some of the congressmen last October 8 asking them to persuade their husbands to act on the bill in Congress.

Kids released to the custody of Preda with a member of a Dutch rap group

Kids released to the custody of Preda with a member of a Dutch rap group

This bill will put the age of criminal liability up to 12 years of age (it is nine at present) and it will order homes be provided for children accused of wrongdoing. Presently, they are jailed without due process or strong evidence for petty misdemeanors. We have rescued 32 kids from different prisons from April to the present alone. Of the 57 boys currently in the center, 16 are enrolled in formal school. The others receive non-formal education in the Center. Our jail rescue team made 30 visits to 10 jails from April to present. By the time you receive this, there will be a lot more rescued but we are running out of space to house them.

Presently we are still negotiating the use of a government building in the countryside that was built with relief funds for job creation after the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991 but was abandoned once completed. A generous donor has made available fund sufficient to renovate it so we are working daily to realize this new home where we can help many more rescued children and give them a new chance so long denied them.

German opponent of Preda arrested

A German national, Hartmut Joost, a resident of Baloy Beach Olongapo City and a severe critic and active opponent of the work of Preda has been arrested and detained by the immigration police in Manila. He is due to be deported to Germany to stand trial for the frame up for kidnapping, extortion with violence and robbery of a Filipina and her husband, a German investor. The couple were allegedly abducted by Joost and his two accomplices at a beach resort in Palawan and forced at gun point to sign away their beach property.

Child trafficker?
Allegedly Joost has been linked to sex trafficking over the years and was charged in court for obstruction of justice. He vigorously opposed efforts by Preda to bring foreign suspects of child sexual abuse to trial and he manipulated the release from jail of convicted pedophile Victor Fitzgerald and manufactured evidence to frame up the staff of Preda. The evil ploy eventually failed with the total exoneration of Fr. Shay and his staff. Joost now faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted.

Fr. Shay with Lord David Alton of the British Parliament

Fr. Shay with Lord David Alton of the British Parliament

Fr. Shay in Washington D.C.
On 13 September, Fr. Shay was invited to the US Congressional Subcommittee on Children in Washington D.C. on children to testify on the situation of street children and kids in prison. Lord David Alton was there also and together they gave a press conference at the National Press Club. Fr. Shay has been invited to another press conference in the National Press Club with the Washington Press Corps on November 7th. He will be at another session of the Congressional Subcommittee on Children too. After his testimony in September, five congressmen announced they would visit the Philippines next January to investigate the condition of children and human rights in the Philippines.

Not to be missed upcoming television programs
In Ireland on 21 October, the RTE television will have Fr. Shay Cullen, founder and president of Preda, as a guest to discuss the situation of the children behind bars and will show segments of the ITN documentary. In Germany and France, two new documentary films will be broadcast in the coming months, one on the jailed children and another about the situation of the abandoned Filipino-American children whom Preda also helps.

Fr. Shay shakes hands with U.S. Representative Chris Smith

Fr. Shay shakes hands with U.S. Representative Chris Smith

Some of them are successful college and high school graduates and employees, others have yet to be rescued and live in appalling poverty on the streets, a sad legacy of the American Armed Forces and Navy retirees. Feature articles for The Times of London are being written and radio programmes by the famous reporter Rupert Cook will reach millions of listeners around the world.

Fr. Shay will launch the new charity PREDA Ireland during the Late Late Show on the 21st. Don’t miss it!

Peace and blessings,

Fr. Shay, the Staff and Children at Preda

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