The Child Prisoners of Philippine Jails
Fr. Shay Cullen, mssc
30 June 2016
The recent conviction of notorious British Douglas Slade in the United Kingdom (UK) for multiple acts of sex abuse against children is a historical and significant development. It is rare that British pedophiles are successfully extradited from the Philippines.
He fled to the Philippines to escape justice in Britain several years ago and he allegedly preyed on many young boys here in the Philippines. The Preda Foundation social workers and paralegal officers rescued several victims and brought legal charges against Slade in Philippine courts and pursued justice for them. Soon we will take civil court action in the UK to get justice for the Filipino children he allegedly abused.
In the Philippines he was allegedly able to bribe his way out of these cases. He was video recorded telling a journalist how he was able to bribe his way and have the cases dismissed.
This is real crime to the eternal shame of irresponsible and corrupt lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Despite strong evidence, including the testimony of the victims, the cases were dismissed and he allegedly carried on abusing more children. More cases were filed and dismissed. The corrupt officials who allowed it should answer to the nation and God.
This practice of corrupt officials granting impunity to rich, foreign sex tourists is driving the drug and sex trade here in the Philippines. Children as young as 12 years old are used sexual play toys of the pedophiles of many nationalities.
We hope that President Rodrigo Duterte, recently inaugurated, will really live up to his declaration to crush crime with an iron fist and close the drug and sex dens that proliferate all over the Philippines and bring to trial those sex tourists who abuse minors.
The tendency to blame the children for the crimes of adults is prevalent here. It took twenty years to pass a benign law that set the age of criminal liability for children at 15 years old, giving them protection. However, the new congress under President Duterte plans to lower that to 12 years of age.
Juanito is a 10-year-old boy rescued recently from a detention cell in Metro Manila by Micka, the Preda social worker. He was beaten and physically and orally abused by his father and his stepmother. Instead of jailing the abusive parents, the authorities jailed the boy. Even parents will blame the child for their abusive ways.
Also rescued from the detention cell is a girl victim of sexual abuse. The child, likely a victim of human trafficking, was put behind bars as if a criminal instead of jailing the rapists. Thousands of Filipino children are badly treated in this way. The Philippine laws and international conventions on children’s rights are apparently unknown to the local government officials who treat the poor children like vermin.
These places of detention are not children’s homes. They are jail cells. The children sleep on the concrete floor and have a dirty blocked toilet the smell would make one sick. Children as young as 10 are put into the overcrowded cells. There is no legal help, no education, no exercise, or sunlight or proper food. The situation in these places is a serious violation the law and the rights of the child. The older boys abuse the younger.
When the children are brought to the freedom and comfort of the Preda home in the countryside where all the needs and wants are met, they open up and tell all the hardship and abuse they suffered behind bars. Some have been bullied and sexually abused.
This negative attitude to criminalize children at an early age is the indication of incompetence and failure of the police to catch the real dangerous criminals. Perhaps they are afraid or unable to get evidence or they are part of the crime syndicates. It’s easy to arrest teenagers and claim success in solving crimes.
The announcement of congressmen to lower the age of criminal liability for children from the present 15 years of age to 12 years of age or even younger is a failure or unwillingness to capture the real masterminds behind criminality.
The street children at 12 years old will then be marked as criminal suspects. They will be targets for the vigilante death squads. Minors older than 15 will be shot or tried in court and sentenced as adults and will not have a second chance by diversion or rehabilitation as the law grants at present.
The police say the drug dealers and drug lords use the children as delivery boys and girls. If that is true, then the police have the testimony children to get convictions against the drug dealers under the child protection law otherwise known as RA 7610. This is much easier to prove in a court of law than drug possession. The child has to be protected, given therapy and counseling and the child will testify safely against the dealers and drug lords.
These are challenging times. We must do all we can to protect and save children form pedophiles and abuse in the home and on the streets. We must oppose the illegal and abusive jailing of children and campaign to leave the child protection law as it is and insist on the rule of law.