The good news is that justice sometimes works for the sake of the children — abandoned, raped, exploited and abused, as in the case of Maria reported — but not often enough. Church and State are frequently slow and silent about the abuse of children and action is frequently lacking in bringing the abusers to justice. Denial, cover-up, intimidation of victims and witnesses, and pay-offs to parents and victims are the methods employed by suspects or their enablers to stop complaints from reaching the prosecutor or the courts. When barangay (village) officials arrange a payoff between abusers and parents and take a cut for themselves, the law is violated and the child victims are thrown aside to suffer in silence.
This criminal behavior of child abuse and cover-up of the crimes are total and outright contradictions and denials of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and a repudiation of Christianity. Pedophile priests who abuse children, and bishops who send them on vacations are to be challenged and brought to justice. Pope Francis and the Vatican child protection team have said priests must be formally accused when credible evidence is presented and they be brought to the civil prosecutors. The Church cannot ignore the child protection law of the people.
A recent Vatican guideline says that even reports of child sexual abuse allegedly committed by a cleric that are anonymous must be considered worthy of investigation. “The anonymity of the source should not automatically lead to the report being considered false, especially if it is accompanied with documentation that attests to the likelihood of a delict, a (crime) being committed.” All these laws and instructions for bishops and priests and laypeople are available on the Vatican website.
Thanks to good police work in Batanes, a wanted suspect, fugitive Rizalito “Regen/Regie” Javier, charged with child abuse in Cavite and with two arrest warrants against him, is now jailed in Batanes. He is a close friend of Father Rolly Olango, parish priest of Itbayat, who assigned him to organize and train the parish altar boys even knowing that he is wanted on child abuse charges. He was likely acting as a pimp, grooming and preparing the most vulnerable boys for abuse. Serious allegations of child sexual abuse of several altar boys by clergy are now emerging and their parents are complaining that their children are showing psychological distress consistent with sexual abuse by priests.
The parishioners are writing a letter to Bishop Juan Danilo Bangayan Ulep of Batanes, and they are saying that Father Olango is protecting Javier and the parish priest has likely violated several laws, such as harboring a fugitive and endangering children. They call for him to be suspended under Church law. Local people suspect there are many more pedophile priests in the diocese and the parents are encouraging the altar boys to come forward. Batanes is a small island of 18,000 to 20,000 inhabitants in the extreme north of the Philippines.
The victims/survivors can be helped recover and triumph in life when they are given the intervention and rescue of a government social worker and help at a private therapeutic shelter that gives protection, support, understanding, affirmation and Emotional Release Therapy. Then, the child or youth victim/survivor can recover and be empowered, emotionally strengthened and can live with self-confidence and testify against his or her abusers.
Maria (not her real name) is one of many victims/survivors who brought about the conviction of their abusers. Maria testified against her biological father who raped her three times during the lockdowns.
Wilfredo was found guilty on three counts of child rape and sentenced by Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Logronio of the Olongapo Family Court to three life sentences without parole. His only defense was denial. Maria, his 12-year-old daughter under the care of the Preda Foundation, fought for justice after being healed from trauma and empowered by Emotional Release Therapy at Preda.
She was able to testify. As the judge said in her decision, “Minor MMM’s testimony remained firm, consistent and trustworthy. She narrated her ordeal with the accused in a straightforward, spontaneous and coherent manner. She clearly narrated on how she was repeatedly raped by the accused on three occasions.” Maria endured strict cross examination and won her case, one of an average 15 convictions won by Preda supported children. Every act of justice brings hope and encouragement to child victims/survivors and defenders of children everywhere.
But often justice is blind-sided by corrupt police practice and fake agents from a so-called child rescue charity that several minors complained of having been sexually abused by them. The NBI officers refused to identify and arrest the fake charity agents that they collaborated with. The Philippine head of the charity refused to identify their paid agents. The child traffickers were acquitted in two separate court cases because of this. The parent rescue charity in the USA and Australia failed to respond to the child sex abuse complaints. Instead of being rescued, the minors’ destiny was to be sexually abused. Clearly, justice was obstructed with impunity and denied to their child victims.
The Philippine Court of Appeals is slow in rendering justice to victims of child sexual abuse when these cases should have top priority. As it is said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” We hope the Supreme Court will speed up the delivery of justice to child victims.
The world is watching and also concerned nations are providing information and are appealing for justice for those children abused online through sex shows sold to foreign customers. However, most foreign police at embassies in the Philippines are focused on anti-terrorism work and ignore child abuse by their pedophile and human trafficking nationals. Not Canada. They have assigned a senior police officer to focus on the child abuse of Filipino children by Canadians.
The church leaders should be like good Pope Francis and follow his example and constantly speak out against child abuse in society and in the Church. There is apathy, indifference and silence about the heinous crimes that are happening in families and in the Church. The sexual abuse is leaving the child victims suffering for the rest of their lives. The inaction brings shame and repudiation on the institutions they represent. Like the parents of abused children in Batanes demanding justice from the Church and the bishop, everyone should speak out and demand healing, recovery, justice, and a happier, better life for the victims of child sexual 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.