top of page

Delays in legal process cost child rights NGO huge sums


PREDA

It's always good news when justice is done and seen to be done. Judge Maribel Mariano-Beltran in the Family Court Branch 13 in Iba, Zambales is among one of the quickest family court judges to try child abuse and rape cases. Likewise, the court of Judge Gemma Theresa Hilario-Logronio in Olongapo City where the children, supported by the Preda Foundation, file their cases and where they have victories against their abusers as listed below.



The most recent promulgation is that in the case of 13-year old Maria Joy (not her real name), raped many times by her biological father and became pregnant. It was only discovered when she became dizzy and had a check up. Her father was convicted to life in prison. Preda has cared for Maria Joy and her baby. That case took less than a year.


When we have a new law establishing a Children's Court as proposed by Preda Foundation, hopefully it will take only six months for the judge to complete the trial and many more children can achieve justice. The wise judge will take first the testimonies of the healed and empowered child-victims who can then be reintegrated to their supportive families. New abused children can then be accommodated in the residential therapeutic centers.


During the trial, the abused child has to stay in a residential therapeutic center to overcome the trauma of multiple rape and abuse like that experienced by Maria Joy. The victim needs to be protected from the abuser or his family. They will prevent the child from testifying.


In the Preda Foundation charitable residential center in Zambales, the child is rescued from her abusers and joins a community of other abused children. They are all fully supported in all needs and receive therapy, emotional support, and empowerment by professional staff and social workers until each is called to give her testimony and hopefully win her case.


Every year, there are about 20 convictions won by the Preda children. In 2024, seven convictions have been won already. The healing therapy, support and court victory gives a new life and a new start to the child. The children will never live in fear again. They will not be haunted by the trauma. They have self-confidence and a fighting spirit to finish their schooling and make a great successful life for themselves and their own children one day. They are happy and resilient.


In the report below, the real names of the children are not used. In January 2024, Grace, eight years old, won a conviction in Family Court Branch 13 in Iba, Zambales against her maternal grandfather. He was convicted and sentenced to six months to six years in prison for acts of lasciviousness against Grace.


Janice, now nine years old, fought back after being sexually assaulted by her own biological father and won his conviction. He was sentenced to twelve to twenty years in prison last January 8, this year in the Family Court Branch 12 of Judge Gemma Theresa Hilario-Logronio.


Jennifer, when about 16, was protected and supported by Preda after she was raped by her half-brother. She found the courage to fight back and won his conviction. He was sentenced by Judge Gemma Theresa Hilario- Logronio to life in prison where he can abuse no more children.


Julie, now 17 years old, was a victim of rape by her paternal uncle when she was about 15. She was supported by Preda and won his conviction and he was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Maria Josephine M. Rosario-Mercado in the Regional Trial Court in Macabebe, Pampanga.


Then in February, the half-brother of Jane, a child victim of multiple rape since the age of 14 years old, was sentenced to life in prison in the Family Court Branch 12 in Olongapo City. In the same month, DepEd Olongapo teacher Franco Aranas was convicted for the sexual abuse of two boy-victims that were supported by Preda. He is appealing his conviction in the Court of Appeals. Last year, Franco Aranas was also convicted for the sexual abuse of another male victim.


Justice delivered is punitive but also preventive. The abuser cannot abuse again in prison and conviction is a deterrence for others tempted to abuse children. Pedophiles are known to have many victims.


This success, 20 convictions a year, and the good work of healing and empowering children at Preda Foundation comes with an expensive monetary cost. Supporting 68 children is a big challenge and every delay by a prosecutor making a resolution, the defense lawyer being absent and having multiple hearings to earn more money, or police failing to arrest a suspect, increases the cost of helping the child victim/survivor and prevents us from helping more children.


The protection and healing of child-victims is very expensive. Every month, the Preda Foundation spends PhP 13,000 per child (212 EUR euro or US$230). At present, there are 68 child-victims at the Preda home. That is a total cost of PhP 884,000 per month or US$15,657.747 or Euro 14,437. The longer a child is in the center, the more expensive it is.


Delays cause child-witnesses to become sad, depressed and despondent, frustrated and angry. They want to go home and could even refuse to testify. When that happens, the justice system, with outstanding exceptions, has failed the child and is self-defeating. If the child leaves the protection of Preda because of delays and is back home, the family of the accused will pressure her to withdraw her complaint before she can testify. The justice system fails to deliver justice in such cases.


Preda is licensed and one of the few accredited healing centers for abused children in the Philippines. It cares and heals the child-victims with a planned program of therapies with professional staff and vigorously pursues justice for the victims. There are no Philippine corporations or church agencies financially supporting the work of the Preda Foundation in rescuing, protecting, healing and finding justice for child-victims. The Preda Foundation does not receive any financial support from the Philippine government.


Preda has been serving abused children and campaigning for their rights to be respected and operating now for 50 years. Over recent years, from time to time, donors to the Preda charity have included embassies such as the Embassy of Canada, the British Embassy and the German Embassy as well as the USAID. International bodies, such as the UN Anti-Slavery Fund and the UN Anti-Trafficking Fund, have picked up the challenge and have all helped support Preda over the short term. They are limited by law to only short term support that they can give. Their funding comes to an end after six months to one year. It is difficult to plan ahead for the support of 68 abused children.


Charities in Germany have also contributed from time to time. Misereor and Missio are church agencies. Non-government organizations like Preda Freundeskreis, Space Lama, Tatort Verein and Aktionsgruppe are long-term supporters of Preda. Fair trade shops also have donated to help meet the costs of helping so many children. A foreign corporation, World of Foods e.V based in The Netherlands, has also supported the work of Preda for the past several years.


Local government social workers refer their children to Preda for help and sometimes give a small donation. That is why is why the proposed new law establishing children’s courts will also establish professionally-run government-funded therapeutic homes to protect and heal abused children.


If a corporation or individual donor wished to support the work of protecting and healing the abused children, they could avail of a tax deduction since Preda Foundation is an accredited charity by the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) and a certified “donee institution” by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. They can contact Mr. Francis Bermido Jr. at +63 942 9913785 or fbermido@gmail.com.


Comments


Voice of the South Newsletter delivered to your inbox

Subscribe for more informative news, inspiring stories and special offers.

bottom of page