International Children’s Day is a day of celebration. It is a day when every happy family can rejoice that their children are healthy, happy and safe in a loving home. We can say that the respect and rights of children have never been higher. Never in the history of the world have there been so many advocates and activists protecting children and promoting their well-being. Never have there been so many laws promoting their well-being, their education and their health. Children have never been so loved today.
All of this attention to the well-being of children is new to our generation. In past generations, children had an inferior status in society. Although most parents loved their children, few or no laws protected them. Child abuse and child labor were everywhere; child sexual abuse was common and hardly considered a crime. There were few champions for the children. Charles Dickens and Don Bosco are among the few who wrote and acted to help children in difficult circumstances.
After World War II, the suffering and abuse of children was so widespread that people of conscience and moral principle rediscovered the teaching and respect that Jesus of Nazareth had for young people. He was perhaps the first champion and advocate for children.
He stood as a child before a crowd of scribes, Pharisees, and elders who saw themselves as the elites and rulers of society. He said this child was the most important of all, whoever took in a child took him in. This identification of Jesus with a child recognized the deep dignity and higher status of a child than anyone else. It was an earthquake, Jesus of Nazareth made a lot of enemies that day.
His teaching was ignored for most of 2,000 years until defenders of children’s rights won at the United Nations and proclaimed a comprehensive convention that enshrined the exalted rights of the child around the world. in 1988. This writer was there in Helsinki as a delegate from the Philippines when the convention was being finalized in debates and resolutions and the final draft was drafted. It was adopted by the General Assembly the following year 1989. This is what we must celebrate, a historic awakening and awareness of the plight of abused and exploited children around the world. This awareness must continue as the danger of child abuse worsens with the impact of the internet, unethical internet service providers and corrupt people who abuse children.
This was not enough as there was still a lot of child abuse and countries passed weak laws that were not implemented and failed to protect children. Further awareness of the worst forms of child labor in the world was needed. Finally, the human race admitted its most terrible crimes against children in the sex industry, construction, factory and agriculture where education and dignity were taken from children, and they were like slaves.
Another global campaign resulted in the Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. This was adopted in Geneva on June 17, 1999.
This writer was also present in Geneva to campaign for her and see her vote and pass. There have been marches and demonstrations all over the world. People were waking up, voices speaking out demanding change, protection and liberation from a life of child slavery. They demanded the child’s right to education. More national laws have been passed to end such slavery. Children should be educated with dignity and protected from exploitation. These laws are improved and updated as the extent of child abuse is constantly uncovered, with pedophiles finding insidious new ways to abuse children.
Two new Philippine laws were recently passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and will hopefully be enacted. One is to increase the age of consent. When enacted, any act of abuse against a child 16 and under will be considered legal rape. The second new law prohibits so-called child brides. Any arranged relationship between a child and an older man is illegal and the offender will be jailed for many years.
Also recently, child molesters have found a new criminal way to abuse children. They were hired by a non-governmental child rescue organization called Destiny Rescue. The Preda Foundation, a child protection organization represented by its executive director Emmanuel Drewery, in support of two child victims of sexual abuse, one aged 13, has filed an official complaint with the city prosecutor from Olongapo. The complaint alleged that several children were sexually abused by undercover agents hired by Quezon City-based Destiny Rescue, affiliated with the U.S. charity of the same name.
Officers raise money through donations to support the work of rescuing children from human traffickers. They contact the traffickers and pose as sex clients and when the traffickers bring the children to them for a sex party, the undercover officers with an undercover police officer give them marked money. When the human traffickers accept the money, they are immediately arrested and the children are rescued.
When several rescued children were brought to the Preda Foundation by social workers in Olongapo City for care and protection, they revealed that before the rescue, Destiny Rescue agents took them to hotels and assaulted them. sexually while their traffickers stood outside the bedroom door.
We reached out to Destiny Rescue’s country chief, Alwin Laysico, and his undercover investigator Michael Santiago, to ask them to help us identify the agents. They did not cooperate. US-based parent company Destiny Rescue also didn’t respond to our requests for help.
Chief Prosecutor Orlando Navallo of the Olongapo City National Investigation Bureau is investigating and has assured us that the suspects will be located and identified. The prosecutor has yet to rule on the complaint. Affidavits are available here. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Hsq4t-bRFzl08KWeVWziVFifWjkAReIC?usp=sharing
Francis Bermido Jr., president of the Preda Foundation, called on Destiny Rescue to cooperate and identify the suspects and bring them to justice. Child victims are determined to seek justice. Anyone can refer a child for care and recovery from trafficking or sexual abuse by contacting Preda at [email protected] A team of professional therapists and social workers from the Preda Therapeutic Homes treats and empowers child victims and helps them obtain justice against their abusers. On average, Preda children win 18 convictions against their abusers and traffickers each year. It is hoped that those suspected of abuse by Destiny Rescue agents will soon be identified and brought to justice.