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Philippine News Digest 23

April 23, 2002 · 

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Contents:

  • Bishop testifies in support of convicted paedophile
  • Congress passes anti-trafficking bill
  • Governor slams church for condemning vigilante killings
  • Peace prize shouldn’t have been given to Peres

Bishop testifies in support of convicted paedophile

The bishop of the Archdiocese of Iba in Zambales province, north of Manila testified in a local court April 2 in defense of an Australian paedophile who was earlier convicted of sexually abusing a minor in his yacht in 1994. The testimony of the bishop is based on his sworn affidavit and that of 23 priests that says they believe the reverse testimony of the victims, without even hearing the side of PREDA Foundation who initiated the trial of Fitzgerald. An Australian priest assigned in the diocese paid Fitzgerald’s bail bond of 1,600 sterling pounds allowing him to roam the streets and prey on more children. According to a statement by PREDA, instead of getting a convicted paedophile out of jail, the church ought to be helping the hundreds of child victims seeking justice in the courts. Source: Internet News Network and correspondent reports, 18 April 2002.

Congress passes anti-trafficking bill

The House of Representatives finally passed on second reading House Bill 4432, or the Antitrafficking in Persons Act, which is a consolidated version of several bills filed during the 12th Congress. Its counterpart in the Senate is lodged with the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, chaired by Sen. Loi Estrada. Aurora Javate de Dios who is chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), welcomed the development saying that “while there are efforts to curb trafficking at the moment, we need a law that imposes stricter sanctions and bilateral measures between sending and receiving countries”. The NCRFW regards the anti-trafficking bill a landmark law because it considers the nature of trafficking as a transborder crime and its underlying gender issue. Moreover, it imposes stiff penalties for the perpetrators and decriminalizes the victim. Data from the NCRFW indicate that since 1994, one international crime sysndicate alone has sold at least 150 Filipino women for $5,000 each in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Tongo and other West African countries. Filipino women are now trafficked worldwide for sexual slavery, prostitution or forced labor through sex tourism, labor recruitment, and legal adoption or au pair system where a girl resides temporarily with an adoptive foreign family for cultural or educational exchange. Source: Correspondent reports in Today, 23 April 2002.

Governor slams church for condemning vigilante killings

Governor Vicente Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, south of Manila, scoffed at the Catholic Church’s condemnation of the summary executions of suspected drug pushers and users by alleged vigilante groups in the province. The governor said he is determined to stop the flourishing drug trade in the province and that he would not listen to criticisms from the religious sector. He also admitted the existence of the vigilante group and that he favors its activities. Earlier, Bishop Nerio Odchimar of the Diocese of Tandag condemned the spate of summary executions of streetchildren and youth. He also urged the police to investigate and unmask the people who are behind the killings. Source: Franklin Caliguid, Philippine Daily Inquirer Mindanao Bureau, 18 April 2002.

Peace prize shouldn’t have been given to Peres

Members of the Nobel panel are now engulfed in a controversy because some of them are saying that the 1994 prize shouldn’t have gone to Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Peres shared the prize with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for the peace efforts, now collapsed, that included the Oslo Agreement negotiated in the Norweigian capital. Rabin was assassinated in 1995. Panel member Hanna Kvanmo said as a member of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition government, Peres was party to the Israeli military offensive. Another member, Lutheran Bishop Gunnar Staalsett, said Peres was violating the “intention and spirit” of the prize while Sissel Roenback, another panel member, urged Peres to return to a policy of peace and dialogue. The dissenters did not extend their criticism to Arafat because, according to them, he had tried to carry out the Oslo accords and coudn’t be blamed for the violence since Israel had him uinder virtual arrest. Source: Associated Press report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 April 2002.

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