Philippines: kiddie porn reform is urgent

Journalists touring the Philippines were offered DVDs featuring child pornography of the grossest kind. It is time for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to get her congress to pass the Anti-Child Pornography Bill. Urgently.

If there is one great thing that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can do with her awesome power in the Philippines is to use it for the well being and protection of vulnerable children. All she has to do in her State of the Nation Address on 27th of July to win a place in legal history is to tell her Congress that the Anti-Child Pornography Bill is "urgent". All the Representatives have to do is to vote "yes" and they will save thousands of children from rape and abuse in the years to come.

That alone will be enough for the Congress to pass this Bill, the Senate version has already been approved. It's very shameful that the Philippines, a nation where the vast majority children are loved, cherished and protected by their families that the State has failed in its obligations under international treaties and protocols to protect them by law from the sexual abuse that is inevitable in the making and distribution of child pornography. This is a moral issue of the highest order; the dignity of the nation is at stake before the world.

In most countries with updated anti-child pornography laws, the crime is seen as heinous and penalties can be 5 to 20 years in prison. In the United States, an offender with multiple images in his possession can get life in prison. Most Filipinos have never seen child pornography, if they did and realized how terrible it is, then there would be public outrage and rightly so.

The developed countries are offering training in computer forensics to Philippine law enforcers to enable them to detect, identify abusers sending illegal images over the internet once the law is passed and the guidelines for its implementation are published.

Last week, two journalists were visiting the sex capitol of Central Luzon, Angeles City. Foreign and local sex tourists flock there to abuse women and children with impunity and the blessings of the politicians who issue operating permits to the sex clubs. They must be held accountable too.

The journalists were offered a DVD with the title "child abuse", "that's for free", the pimp told them, "maybe you want the real thing too" he said offering them a 15 year-old child for as little as twenty Euro( US$28 18GBP). They took the DVD and disgusted, declined the offer of the child. Not far away, police looked on unconcerned. But the journalists learned just how prevalent is the trafficking and selling of young girls and child-porn on the streets of many a Philippine town like Angeles City with a thriving sex business.

This is the shame that all decent Filipinos don't have to live with before the world. Rather than hiding in shame, we have to step forward, take a stand for the dignity of Filipinos everywhere and speak out against crimes against children. Not to do so is a form of silence that is consent.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has yet to support this important bill and urge the president to mark it as urgent. I have every confidence they will. Then, when passed, the abusers can be brought to justice. The video taken by the journalists showed a Caucasian 10 year-old blond girl being sexually-abused, they reported. This kind of child pornography entices Caucasian sex tourists to seek children to abuse in their home countries. In another clip, they said, an Asian child was being abused by a Caucasian man with a British accent and he is fully recognizable.

It is a crime that has life-long consequences as it played over the internet to a worldwide audience. A child abused at an early age and now 15 said. "Knowing that some sick person is looking at me on the computer every day in a way that no child should ever be looked at . . . makes me feel violated (again). It makes me want to throw up."

So we desperately need the President to certify the pending anti-child porn law as urgent and together we can save thousands of children from abuse.

Whatever you can do, please do it.

Rev. Shay Cullen is a Catholic priest serving the people of the Philippines. Born in Ireland, he is the co-founder of PREDA: an organization dedicated to ending the abuse and sexual exploitation of children. 

Visit www.preda.org for more related articles.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

Comments

This page took 0.1445seconds to load