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PREDA NEWSLETTER September 1997

September 2, 1997 · 

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Dear Friends,

As I write this there are two dozen children from a nearby school practicing their school play on the floor above me. Laughter, excitement and fun sound great!

They were invited to use the PREDA Center by one of our children who is recovering at PREDA and attending that school. It’s good to see that the the sexually abused children are well integrated with their class mates and take a leadership role.

All too often such children are stigmatized and ridiculed. But more children are being abused these days and they have common understanding and common cause.

Many children are abused but are into denial, unable to face the terrible reality of abuse in the home or by a neighbor or a teacher. But some children have found common cause and rallied in public with placards against a paedophile teacher in a town near here. The result of PREDA training seminars to the children on their rights.

Campaign Against Child Labour – Child Sex Workers

Down in the main hall right now there is a meeting of teenagers, Filipino-American youth and other youth leaders being organized by PREDA as public speakers.

Young people are more effective to talk to their peers than adults about child abuse, drug abuse and AIDS. I will talk with them a while and discuss how they can help children report abuse, show them a video on the various undercover operations of the PREDA investigation team gathering evidence of pimps trafficking in children show them the inside of child brothels.

They are getting more involved; with the campaign against child abuse and child labor.

Canadian Teenage Campaigner Coming To PREDA

A Canadian teenager, Craig Kilberger, who is campaigning with his own organization FREE THE CHILDREN in Canada and the United States against child labor is coming to PREDA to meet the PREDA teenage campaigners here. We will make a joint documentary of TV together. (more below)

Philippine Federal Police Do Nothing

Despite reporting these cases of abuse and supplying evidence to the higher police authorities they still don’t act.

Last week I had a meeting with the head of the anti-child prostitution unit of the Federal Police and asked them to send an agent to where pimps were offering me children for sex in the park.

They refused – “it might be instigation” they said. No kickbacks or bribes and so useless to them.

Public Education 360 New Cases Reported As A Result

The education project is still going on. Everyday there is a seminar or a workshop on children’s rights, drug abuse or AIDS in some the school of the city or the province.

The seminars not only inform children and parents and teachers about the rights of children but the the children are encouraged to find help when they are victims of abuse or their friends are.

The seminars help the children find renewed courage to report and file complaints against child abusers. A PREDA poster showing empowered children is distributed.

360 new cases have been reported and filed in court since January 1995. Before that, none on record.

Children Fight Back Against Paedophile

The children in Maloma High School, San Felipe, Zambales, had such a seminar and two weeks later they staged a public demonstration with their parents support in front of the school to protest against the principle whom they claimed had allegedly sexually molested several of their class mates.

The children made their complaints and asked PREDA to help them with the legal aspects. It is very encouraging to see children being empowered and acting directly on their own.

Two Wanted Paedophiles Arrested

In the past weeks 2 notorious paedophiles have been found and arrested.

One has repeatedly raped his own daughter, he had resisted arrest and escaped with a police gun. He fired on a school building where the child had confided in a teacher before seeking refuge at PREDA. He threatened to shoot us too. So we are very relieved that he is behind bars.

The other sexually molested a 7 year old Filipino-American children. The grandmother saw it happen when she went to the nearby stream. It was an in law and his uncle on different occasions. One is still in hiding.

Both the children are here at PREDA recovering day by day, and catching up on their education.

The PREDA Investigation team put out a Wanted notice with a photo of the most notorious. It offered a reward for information leading to an arrest. Both trials will now continue.

I reported on a earlier case of a Mr. Kuns who abused a 2 year old. We lured him out with an offer of money and jailed him. Now he got bail and is intimidating the witness who saw him abuse the baby. They failed to show up at the court hearing this week.

Tracking Down The Evidence Against A Swiss

The PREDA investigator has also being to visit the remote village in Antique in the South of the Philippines where a Swiss paedophile abused many children and then fled to Switzerland after being discovered.

Pierre Meyers moved into a village, befriended the children and their parents, built his own small house and sexually abused 22 small boys continually for several years. He was seen and fled.

Later he sent a hit man to break into the house of the witness but the intruder was scared off. The story was revealed in the press, ECPAT and the Swiss Embassy took it up but no immediate action resulted.

The Secretary of Social welfare asked PREDA to take up the case. During my visit to Switzerland in July I met with the police and prosecutors and they asked for more evidence. Together with ECPAT we will enable the case to be filed in Switzerland.

PREDA previously requested extradition of Meyer because the most punishment he will get in Switzerland if convicted is 5 years and parole after 2 years. In the Philippines he would get life.

The Philippines-Swiss extradition treaty is useless and window dressing because the Swiss penal code says that the Swiss national must agree to be extradited.

We will try and get him convicted in Switzerland.

Publicity Campaign In Europe During My Visit To Europe In July (Sponsored By Two Donors)

I attended a press conference in Zurich hosted by the Swiss Protestant development agency (HEKS) and the Catholic Agency Caritas.

This resulted in 22 newspaper articles radio and TV reports. I also gave some talks to several churches including the Presbyterian Church in Schiers in the Swiss Alps.

A nice week-end break.

Successful Prevention Strategies, Long Way To Go

I visited our importing partners in Germany and Holland. They import and distribute the products of two mango growing cooperatives and small farmers associations.

PREDA assists the cooperative with loans and other assistance and provides them direct access to the market. The volume has greatly increased. PREDA exported 52 tons of dried mangoes alone in 1996. Also dried pineapples, coco-crisps, and papaya mango.

Dried mangoes were also exported to Ireland where the products are being sold under the Forest Fruits brand name in supermarkets and health stores.

Prevention Better Than Cure

The impact of this is that the mango buying cartels in the areas where the cooperatives are active are now weakened as the farmers do not depend on their usurious loans and future selling their crop a minuscule prices.

The farmers sell for top price directly to the exporters and retailers. It has become a sellers market.

This as well as the handicraft industries supported by PREDA help keep families together in their villages and slow migration to the city slums and so to begging in the streets and child prostitution. Prevention is better than cure.

These sales contribute to the strengthening of the cooperatives and the campaigning for social justice and an end to the labor exploitation, especially child sexual exploitation.

Campaign Against Low Jail Sentence

Lennart Van Empel, Dutch, was convicted and sentenced for child sex abuse. PREDA provided some evidence. His victims are recovering at PREDA. He only got two years.

At a press conference I pointed out the law must be changed. There was little justice for the victims of abuse in that kind of sentence.

The Catholic church agency, Caritas also held a press conference and this too resulted in wide public information on the problem of child exploitation and the unjust social structures in the Philippines and the root causes.

I had a discussion with Dutch national TV who asked to make a TV Documentary on PREDA and got them to agree to give publicity to Caritas to help them in their fund raising. They contribute to the PREDA Children’s Fund.

They have just finished filming here last week. CBS TV of the United States is due here in November to do a documentary on the 5th anniversary of the closure of the USA Military base here. As you know PREDA campaigned long and hard.

When I was visiting Canada last August I was invited to talk to a conference of the delegates. Some were as young as eleven but had been elected by their school and all were articulate, intelligent and very well informed about the causes of child exploitation.

When I arrived at the hall in Toronto, Craig was giving a talk to the delegates. Charts and overhead projects showed information about the World Bank, the IMF and the role of other international institutions in allowing poverty to increase while their loans made the rich even richer.

It was an inspiration to me to hear and see these children drawing up action plans to fight child exploitation.

Their parents are fantastic in supporting them and Craig’s Dad will come with him to the Philippines. They all pledged to work with us and help child sex workers.

A TV documentary company will be here in October to cover the visit of Craig and document the work of PREDA for Children’s Rights.

In Washington D.C. I addressed a meeting of the US Coalition Against Child Labour and asked them to consider the exploitation of child sex workers. I explained the attempt of the US Military to get visiting privileges from the Philippine Government to visit 22 ports and also to get immunity from prosecution in the Philippines for crimes they committed on Philippine soil.

It is well know that the US Court material looks with tolerance at “a boys will be boys” attitude toward woman and child sex.

Although in the Pentagon, the Assistant Secretary for Defense for Personnel Carolyn Becraft assured me every support and that they were trying to get the age of recruitment into the military raised to 18 years.

Visits to the chiefs-of-staff of various senators and congressmen indicated support for a bill to prosecute US child offenders for crimes committed outside the USA or extradition to the Philippines for such offences.

They also offered support to bring it up with members of the Armed Forces Committee. All of this work was made possible by the Columban Justice and peace coordinator in Washington Father Mike Dodd. Our heart felt thanks to him.

Navy Teenagers Brought To Child Sex Dens By US Navy

Although the US Navy expressed its abhorrence of promiscuity and child sexual abuse it still regularly brings its young seventeen year old sailors and others to the notorious Sodom and Gomorrah of Pattaya in Thailand and Angeles city in the Philippines.

Not only are they exposed to extreme peer group pressure to prove their macho manliness but compete in competitions as “who can have them the youngest”.

After a brief visit to family in Edmonton and Vancouver I went to Seattle where I was hosted by Maryknoll Father, Fr. Tom Marti who are active in fighting child sex abuse and they arranged media exposure on TV Radio and print media.

Fr.Tom is also assisting in forming a group to resist the immunity from prosecution for US troops.

Fr. Shay Cullen and the Preda Children and Staff

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