Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Going to jail for children’s rights

BY Fr. Shay Cullen - Manila Times

I write this on Philippine Independence Day and I am ready and willing to surrender my freedom and go behind bars to fight for justice for children and childcare workers. Having failed to make much progress through the system to get justice for children in prisons or for sexually abused children, and defenders of children, perhaps it is time to refuse to pay bail and be imprisoned. Then I can speak to the media about what jail is like for kids in jail despite the International law, and Philippine law that makes it illegal.

The media is the forum for people to exercise their freedom of speech, peaceful protest and independence of mind and freedom from fear. We at the Preda Foundation for human rights in Olongapo are encouraged by high-minded officials with integrity in the Department of Justice to speak out. We plan to go public and to rally for justice for children and ourselves.

The good and honest justice officials want reform too. If it means we take to the streets with banners and bugles, TV and press conferences to highlight the questionable doings of judges, prosecutors, police and sex mafia, we must do it. The Lord will protect us from death threats and harassment.

The present libel case against the eight social and child care workers has been brought by an American, call him GI Joe, a former US serviceman, living near Olon­gapo City and with close connections to the sex mafia and corrupt politicians that support the sex industry. GI Joe is a chronic critic and opponent of the work of Preda. Ever since we rescued his then 6-year-old child from his abusive son and a houseboy, GI Joe retaliated with nonstop counterchar­ges. The houseboy confessed to the then highly respected prosecutor Doren­tino Flo­resta who is now a judge. Judge Floresta won the Supreme Court’s highest award as most outstanding prosecutor of the Philippines for successfully pursuing child abuse cases.

GI Joe, himself a suspect for abusing the sister of the houseboy, has retaliated against us at Preda and has filed numerous baseless cases against us and is getting others to do likewise. All these baseless charges were strongly challenged and confronted by Preda, we can’t tolerate false charges. The good honest people in the justice department eventually came to our help, saw the truth and did the right thing. The false charges were all eventually proven to be fabrications.

More recently, GI Joe has begun to mail the same allegations to our friends and supporters saying we are criminals. We know what Jesus felt when he was cruelly falsely accused and charged before the religious court and then King Herod and Pilate. He was condemned, tortured and executed. May we be spared the same? Those who were angry with Jesus said the good he was doing was evil. That too we have to endure.

The latest libel complaint of GI Joe was filed against us but what he claims to be a libelous act happened 7 years ago. It is outside the statue of limitations and its content is a private comment that does no harm to him and has not been made public. It is not actionable. It should have been dismissed by the prosecutor at once. But yet for some strange reason Prosecutor Peter Parco in Olongapo City filed the complaint with the court almost immediately without inviting us to attend a preliminary investigation which is our right. The judge strangely did not hesitate either and issued arrest warrants and we could all have been thrown into jail had we not paid bail quickly.

So I am looking forward to the next arrest warrant. I am ready for life in the jail. I have my jail bag packed and a press release written to go out to the entire world’s media and our thousands of supporters for a big international campaign to demand justice. The CNN and national TV stations will have a media feast. So next time, expect my letter from prison in the near future.


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