Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Protecting children is our prime duty

Fr. Shay Cullen - Manila Times

Despite all the wars that start and stop, there is one that never ends. That is the one against child abusers and traffickers.

In the UK a recent report says that not enough is being done by the child protection agencies to investigate and stop the trafficking of children. In the Philippines, hardly any trafficker is brought to justice making this a preferred destination for pedophiles and sex tourists apparently with the approval of government officials with personal business interests in the tourist industry.

Only last week, an 8-year-old Austrian child who had been abducted and kept in a basement dudgeon-like room for 10 years escaped. She had paired with her abuser as a way of survival. He killed himself by jumping in front of a train. Later she said she was mourning his death.

A few weeks ago, I was tipped off about a similar case in which a 16-year-old had been abducted and taken to a secret location in Angeles City by a 56-year-old Dutch child-sex abuser. He is wanted for tax evasion in the Netherlands. This year, he built a sex hotel in Baloy Beach, Olongapo, from where he allegedly trafficked young women over the Internet to prospective sex tourists who flew to the Philippines to meet a sex partner.

Luckily, I was able to find his secret sex den in Angeles City and had him arrested. With social workers, we rescued the teenager. She had already been made docile and submissive by her abuser and refused at first to leave him. Now he is charged in court for child abuse while the girl is recovering at the Preda children’s home for trafficked girls. She has had a change of mind and heart. After two weeks of therapy, she is willing to see him go to jail for his many crimes against minors. Now we hope the prosecutors will do their duty and prosecute him to the end.

A German also from Baloy Beach is on trial in Olongapo for obstruction of justice. In order to protect a convicted Australian pedophile from another charge of child abuse, he allegedly abducted the child and had her adopted by a foreign couple in Manila before she could testify. He refused to divulge her whereabouts to police. This is evidence of trafficking, according to Sen. Jamby Madrigal who has summoned the German and a dozen of other witnesses from the police, Department of Justice and Immigration to explain why the accused was released from the immigration prison to carry on with impunity his alleged nefarious activities.

Madrigal is a well-known defender of the rights of women and children. She has called a public hearing of the Philippine Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations tomorrow based on a Senate resolution, the purpose of which is “to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the release from detention of an alleged child trafficker and pedophile [name withheld] with the end in view of formulating stronger legal measures to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar incident involving alleged offenders of child protection laws.”

Senator Madrigal heard the news that the German was arrested and jailed in Manila because he was undocumented and had a deportation order issued against him. A German court had issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged kidnapping and extortion of a German couple. He allegedly forced them to sign a fake deed of sale covering their beach property in Palawan in favor of the German’s Filipino wife.

An NBI agent suspected of being involved will be with Senator Madrigal to testify. The trafficking of children and women is growing by the power of the Internet. The extent to which the Internet is used to transmit child pornography is phenomenal. It accounts for 80 percent of all pornography sent over the Internet. British Telecoms, which provides customers’ access to the Internet, has connected up with a charity to block access to child pornography sites. This is something that Internet service providers in the Philippines and elsewhere need to do.

The new legislation proposed by Senator Madrigal seeks to proscribe the possession of child pornography and to compel ISPs to filter child pornography. Protecting vulnerable children is our prime duty as human beings and above all as Christians

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