HomeCommentaryGood judges bring justice to child victims of sexual abuse

Good judges bring justice to child victims of sexual abuse

Working with good prosecutors and judges, Preda children win an average of 15 convictions of their abusers every year

The wide extent of child sexual abuse is a shocking and embarrassing reality that no nation wants to admit. This is why it is largely ignored and family reluctance to report child rape by a family member or neighbor allows more abuse and prevents children from getting justice.

Laws are circumvented by duty-bearers. Even police fail to pursue investigations and some are allegedly in cahoots with the suspects and create a technicality to have a case dismissed, defeating the purpose of the courts. Victims of rape and trafficking are left unprotected by social services and sent home without help or therapy in a protective home because there is almost none provided by government services.

There are thousands of clinics and hospitals in the Philippines, yet almost no therapeutic homes to protect victims of abuse from abusers, traffickers, or members of their own abusive families. The children have nowhere to go for help. One in every three girls are sexually abused and one in every six boys are victims of sexual abuse worldwide. In the Philippines, it is even higher.

The shame and embarrassment on the nation and government is so huge they are in denial. They claim it is no big problem and so no need for therapeutic homes. A research study by UNICEF and Interpol says as many as two million Filipino children are victims of online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Recently two pedophiles, a British and a Swiss, were identified as customers and perpetrators of horrific online sexual abuse of Filipino children, abused by their parents for money, and were reported to Philippine police but no legal action or investigation has been taken against the foreign suspects by the UK or Swiss police that we know of.

Victims of child human trafficking can be as high as 60,000 a year as estimated by UNICEF. It makes the amendments to the anti-trafficking-in-persons law and the anti-online sexual abuse and exploitation bill all the more urgent to be signed into law by the president. These updated laws are in response to technological advances and, if enforced, are vital to protect children. The recent passing of the law raising the age of sexual consent is a huge benefit for child victims. Sixteen is the age of consent. So, sexual intercourse with a Filipino child below 16 is statutory rape.

Anti-trafficking laws are sometimes circumvented by the deliberate creation of legal technicalities. However, judges wisely balance such dirty tricks against the clear, unequivocal testimony of the child victims who testify how they were abused and trafficked as young teenagers by criminal pimps and human traffickers. Such evidence is the basis of all true judgment and justice is being done despite the reluctance by some government agencies to pursue it and enforce the laws.

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It is not all doom and gloom. Dedicated prosecutors and committed judges and good police are an inspiration to all by implementing the law and giving justice to child victims. These dedicated officials inspire the public to have trust in the justice system. Without that, civilized society will descend into chaos.

Last March 9, 2022, Prosecution Attorney Sunshine Palomar in Olongapo City sent John for trial in court for two counts of statutory rape. He sexually abused his younger sister Julia (not her real name), now 18 years old, whom he abused since she was only eight years. After years of living in fear, Julia got the courage to ask for help from a friend and she contacted the local social worker who rescued Julia and brought her to the Preda home for protective custody and therapy. Julia became self-confident and empowered and she filed her complaint against John. He is now arrested and detained and will stand trial.

In another case, Orlando was recently arrested and detained in Quezon City on the order of Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Logronio of the Regional Trial Court-Family Court Branch 12 in Olongapo City. Orlando is facing two charges of statutory rape before the court. Julio, another suspect, was recently arrested and detained in Olongapo City by order of the same judge. He is facing two counts of lascivious conduct as the step-father of the victim who was only 10 years old when she was allegedly abused.

An accused child sexual abuser, Christian Rey Manzano, was also recently arrested and detained in Castillejos, Zambales, on an arrest warrant issued by Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Logronio. Christian Rey Manzano is facing three counts of statutory rape, violation of Article 266-A 1(d) of the Revised Penal Code.

The abused child Aiza (not her real name) healed from the trauma of abuse through Emotional Release Therapy, and bravely and courageously finished her clear testimony in court. At first, her mother prevented her from attending the court hearings. The good judge in Iba, Zambales, Judge Maribel Mariano-Beltran, did not dismiss the case. She referred the child to the care and protection of the municipal social worker who brought her to Preda. She was empowered and affirmed and after Emotional Release Therapy, had the self-confidence and courage to testify last April 26, 2022, how she was abused.

Another child victim of human trafficking was rescued from traffickers in Meycauayan. She also joined the Preda community and was empowered through emotional Release therapy and strongly testified in Court last April 26, 2022.

Preda works closely with prosecutors and the courts and writes to the Supreme Court administrator from time to time to support good judges and promote justice for children and to see that justice is delivered without delay.

Good judges have frequent hearings and do not allow postponements and delays that cause emotional distress to the child. The child can become angry at the delay since they cannot go home until they testify otherwise the abuser and his family will harass and threaten her not to testify. She may refuse to testify or pursue the case because of the long wait and postponement. That is why protective homes and therapy centers are essential to support and help the child victims and get legal help to bring abusers to justice.

Good judges will not allow affidavits of desistance or allow children to withdraw their testimony because it is done under duress. Working with good prosecutors and judges, Preda children win an average of 15 convictions of their abusers every year. A great success story of the children, some as young as six years old.

More therapeutic homes are needed with professional therapy where children are protected, supported, affirmed, healed, educated, and empowered. The Preda therapeutic home is one of the very few homes for girl victims of domestic sexual abuse, rape, and human trafficking. The professional staff has helped a total of 96 children this past year. They all received protection, therapy, and legal assistance.

Of the 96 children, 52 were victims of sexual abuse, incest rape, rape with sexual assault, acts of lasciviousness, and one was forced into early marriage. Another 36 children have rescued victims of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. All 105 abused/trafficked victims (five males, 100 females) received various forms of legal assistance in the past year.

While we work to prevent abuse, everyone must report a crime to the authorities and to the Preda Foundation for immediate action to save, protect and heal any child victim of abuse.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.

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