• When the rule of law fails

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    FR. SHAY CULLEN, SSC

    It was by doing the right thing and alerting the police that a person with knowledge and commitment to defending children’s rights saved a 13-year-old child from possible rape and sexual abuse. The concerned person saw a 69-year-old foreign male bring a small child into a motel in Cagayan de Oro City last week.

    The child, it was learned, had run away from home in Bukidnon and was living rough on the streets of Cagayan de Oro. If the social workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development interview the child, they will surely learn why she ran away. It could well be that she was abused in her own home by a relative or even by her own father. Seventy percent of the children rescued by social workers, based on our experience, are sexually abused at home. They run away to escape the abuse. So the social workers may find a case to be made against the possible abuser in Bukidnon.

    The foreign suspect, an American by the name of Anthony Bruce Mallet, was arrested and held at the Cagayan de Oro Police Station. He must have had help recruiting the child and persuading her to go with him. A street child is normally frightened of strangers, especially foreigners. His live-in partner ought to be a suspect too and questioned also. Mallet, despite the very strong evidence against him, is still presumed innocent until proven guilty. We will trust in the honesty of the prosecutor and the judge to determine guilt.

    For 80 percent of Filipino children who are victimized by foreign pedophiles, there is a pimp involved who lures and persuades and grooms the child to do sex acts with a foreigner. Peter Scully, a notorious Australian pedophile who sexually abused, tortured and killed a child on video and sold it abroad, had a few young women pimps working for him. In televised interviews he did not deny the charges.

    Mallet, if he was arrested inside a room with the child, can be charged with direct violation of the child protection law otherwise known as Republic Act 7610. It is forbidden to be in any secluded place with a minor who is not a blood relative. It does not have to be that a sexual act occurred or even proven that the child was sexually assaulted. Before RA 7610, many police, prosecutors and judges claimed that there was no crime if the abusive act did not occur.

    That meant that the police had to wait outside the door of the room until the child was raped, abused and traumatized for life before rescuing him or her and arresting the suspect. The attempted sexual abuse, like attempted robbery, or attempted homicide or murder is sufficient to charge the suspect with a crime.

    In the case of Lilian May Thomson (Zimmer), another American with an outstanding Philippine arrest warrant, evidence showed that the children were held in a secluded place for some time and the medical evidence and the statements of the children showed that they were sexually abused. How they were abused and by whom have yet to be answered by Thomson. She denied all charges and the case was strangely dismissed on a technicality.

    The root cause of human trafficking and recruitment of children into the sex industry is the utter failure of law enforcement to recognize the law, and believe in it and implement it. However, many police and local politicians issue permits to sex bars and brothels and allow it to thrive. They do not see it as a serious issue or as a “real” crime even though the law says it is. The law in the Philippines is usually what the authorities choose it to be.

    In the government’s war on drugs, drug suspects are shot dead with or without evidence, in violation of the rule of law. Some policemen also violate the law, or interpret the law as they see fit. Some police officers are known to operate brothels with underage children.

    The murder of a Korean businessman by a policeman within a hundred meters of the office of the chief of police in Camp Crame in Metro Manila is another example of a lawman violating the law.

    The recent discovery of several civilians being held inside a secret cell at a police station in Manila is equally shocking. They were illegally held and would be released on payment of large sums of money, according to them. The officials of the Commission on Human Rights rescued them.

    People in general give little value to children not their own. The street children are seen as petty criminals and expendable. The minors are not considered victims if they are found in sex bars. The corrupt police then exploit the young girls. They are threatened with criminal charges to make them do what the corrupt police want, such as giving sexual favors in some cases. The sex bar owners will have to pay a big sum of money to get them back. The authorities tend to blame the children and minors for the crimes of adults.

    We have to work for a return to sanity, cleansing of the corrupt police and a return to honest rule of law. We are descending into uncivilized barbarity.

    shaycullen@gmail.com
    www.preda.org

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