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Irish priest discovers child torture rooms

June 29, 2003 ·  By Lynne Kelleher, Sunday World


Women and kids beaten in home’s filthy secret cells

A crusading Irish priest has exposed the filthy prison cells where homeless women and children are kept and tortured in the Philippines.

And Columban priest, Fr. Shay Cullen, is now calling on Irish people all over Ireland to write letters of protest to the government of the country about the secret cells found in a children’s home.

The renowned campaigner, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three times, has spent the last 30 years fighting the child sex trade in the Middle Eastern country.

He said Red Cross volunteers working with his Preda Organization discovered the torture chambers.

Women and children were kept in tiny cells behind a secret door as a punishment by social workers in a shelter for the homeless run by the government in Olongapo City.


Fr Cullen said: “By accident they stumbled upon the secret jail cells hidden in a back room where middle-aged women and children as young as eight years-old to 15 regularly imprisoned, beaten and deprived of food.”

It stood against International standards, the conditions amount to torture and grave violations of all civilized human rights.”

The government run shelter called the Olongapo Center for Assistance, Rehabilitation and Empowerment (OCARE) is a drop-in shelter for the street children and disturbed or battered women.”

One of the Swedish Red Cross students who stumbled on the horrific scene said she was shocked by the conditions.

The student, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “When I came to there the mentally ill women sat, I got really shocked. It was much worse that I could really imagine. The smell was awful and it was really dirty. I would not even put an animal in a cell like that.

“I cannot believe how the social workers can sit in their air-conditioned office having lunch at the same time that these poor women are locked behind bars in a tiny cell”.

The students photographed the women behind bars and the toilet hole in the cell that was overflowing with faeces and excrement.

F. Cullen said he wishes to bring it to the attention of people all over the world as it is the international week to remember the victims of torture and abuse of human rights.

He said: “It’s a punishment by the social workers because the kids didn’t come back.

“We are appalled and shocked to discover this terrible violation of human rights. It is arbitrary and unlawful detention of the women and children.

“Children, who were locked up, are of the concrete floor, and were always hungry.”

At his Preda Foundation in Olongapo City the priest and a team of specialists counsel child victims rescued from brothels and red light districts.

It is believed that around a million youngsters are living on the streets of the poor Southeast Asian country, many of them exploited as prostitutes.

He first began hid missionary working with drug addicts but soon concentrated on the sex industry as horror stories unfolded from those in his care.

Over the years has helped jail many of the world’s most notorious paedophiles.


Information gathered through his work helped to put a number of paedophiles and one child murderer behind bars.

Fr. Cullen said Olongapo City inexplicably received the Philippine award last year as the ‘Most Child-friendly City in the Philippines from the Council For The Welfare of Children, a Philippine Government agency.

He is urging the Irish people to write letters to the President of the Philippines to stop this inhuman treatment of children and homeless women.

He said: “We urge you to write a letter of concern to the President of the Philippines and her cabinet demanding the shutdown of this center and barring the city from having any such center.”


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