Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Save Our Children
Below is a newsletter article by PREDA (People's Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance) written by Fr. Shay Cullen exposing the horrible reality of child pornography and abuse in the Philippines. Fr. Cullen is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and missionary priest from Ireland and a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. He has worked in protecting women, children, and human rights in our country since 1969. At present, he is actively lobbying for the passage of House Bill No. 684 or the Anti-Child Pornography Bill. I hope that our Church leaders will throw their full support behind this initiative to help rescue vulnerable children from sexual predators and pedophiles.
Pornography and especially images depicting children being sexually abused and exploited are available on DVD's under the tables of most street-side vendors in the Philippines and other Asian countries. The absence of a strong specific law that makes it illegal to make, copy, distribute or possess such materials damages the lives of thousands of children. Such images are evidence of horrific crime against children and that's why in all civilized countries where the rule of law prevails, child pornography is anathema and violators get lengthy prison sentences. But not yet in the Philippines.
Not only are the children abused in the making of the videos, but thousands more innocent children are corrupted and led into perverted sexual acts with small children after viewing such materials. What 12 year-old Jopin did to a six year old, who can't be named, is extremely shocking. He learned what sex acts to do from a pornographic video that was left in the video machine by a visiting relative. Jopin secretly viewed the pornographic video and soon after he tried out the perverse acts on a six year old. It had tragic consequences for the child victim and Jopin.
Child pornography has spread across the world through the internet and so as the advertising and promotion of child trafficking and sexual exploitation. Every time children and minors are used in the making of the perverse videos, they are violated and damaged.
The revelation on YouTube and copied to dvd's and cell phones of a sexually explicit video of an actress and a doctor performing before the camera with mutual consent caused public debate in the Philippine these past weeks and was subject to a Senate Hearing. Many Congress people and civic leaders expressed disgust, shock and even outrage. Much of it is pure hypocrisy considering that there is a thriving child sex-trade in the Philippines with alleged official approval. However with child pornography, things could change soon.
In the Senate, Senate Bill No. 2317 entitled "An Act Prohibiting Child Pornography, Imposing Penalties for the Commission Thereof and for Other Purposes" passed the Third and Final Reading last November 24, 2008. All Senators unanimously voted for the approval. Two days after, the Bill was forwarded to the lower house requesting for concurrence. In the House of Representatives, House Bill No.684 entitled "An Act Defining the Crime of Child Pornography, Imposing Penalties Thereof, and for Other Purposes" has passed First Reading and has been forwarded to the Committee on Justice, Committee on the Welfare of Children and Committee on Appropriations for review and amendment. Once the lower house version has passed Second and Third Reading, a bi-cameral session will be held to come-up with a consolidated version of the Senate Bill and House Bill.
That's why it is of utmost importance for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to certify as urgent this important bill. The protection of vulnerable children is of the highest national importance and the presidential certification of the bill as urgent will guarantee its swift passing, that will be a crowning achievement. So readers of this column are asked to write to the president at Malacanang Palace, Manila and encourage her to make it so.
The internet is the international channel for the proliferation of child pornography. Thousands have been arrested worldwide for downloading the illegal images, but the server corporations make billions of dollars out of facilitating the evil trade, that's the one reason they do not want to install anti-child porn filters and set-up an independent monitoring group that finds the source and either blocks the offending website or helps police identify the offenders. If all the server corporations agree to do it then no one would have advantage over the other. But they can't agree. The new law must make blocking mandatory for all, voluntary self-regulation should never be a substitute for the law. So let's write letters and send e-mails, WE NEED THAT LAW CERTIFIED AS URGENT! It will save children from abuse and will help us rescue and give them a new start in life.