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Philippines

Deport the abusers, not missionaries

Philippine government seems to be adopting a policy of double standards when it comes to human rights

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Deport the abusers, not missionaries

The city of Angeles in the northern Philippine province of Pampanga has become a destination of so-called sex tourists. (Photo by Vincent Go)

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Overseas Filipino workers endure being away from their families as they sacrifice themselves to earn a living and support their children and parents back home.

In Ireland, there are as many as 16,000 Filipinos living and working and earning just and good wages. There are 4,265 nurses while others work as caregivers and in other professions. 

Filipinos have been welcomed, trusted, and respected in Ireland. 

They send their hard-earned money back to the Philippines to support their families. They are caring, trustworthy and dedicated to their profession.

Filipino choirs in many churches inspire many communities in Ireland. Filipino Muslims are also frequent visitors to mosques.

The Philippine economy is said to be growing at an estimated 6.4 percent, although the accuracy of the figure is hard to confirm because many Filipinos still have to leave home to find jobs abroad.

Deplorably in the Middle East, many migrant workers suffer abuse and exploitation by unscrupulous employers. In Kuwait alone, at least 600 Filipino workers have fled to the Philippine embassy.

An agreement was supposed to be signed by Kuwait and the Philippines to ensure that the rights of Filipino migrant workers are respected.

How important is it for the Philippine government to protect the rights of its workers abroad? They send as much as US$14 billion back to the Philippines every year. 

Back home, meanwhile, foreigners frequent sex bars and clubs. They enjoy impunity after drug raids by government authorities. 

While Filipino maids in Kuwait are being rescued from abusive employers, back home the abuse and exploitation of young women and children is generally tolerated. 

Foreign missionaries who work in poor Filipino communities are, meanwhile, killed or harassed. They sacrifice their lives to work among the poor and the oppressed.

They deserve recognition for defending the exploited, abused, and victims of human rights violations. Instead they area accused of political activism.

Australian nun Patricia Fox, 71, had been serving in the Philippines for 27 years with her Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion congregation until she was arrested.

Her missionary visa has been revoked and she will be deported in the next 30 days. 

She is accused of engaging in political activities for being an advocate of human rights and the rights of the oppressed.

"Helping the poor is not a crime and joining peaceful activities to advocate peasant welfare and human rights is not against the law," she said.

When serving the poor and protesting human rights violations becomes a crime and branded wrongly as political activity, tyranny and oppression is in the offing.

All who believe in mercy, compassion and justice are called by their faith and their commitment to the values of Jesus to imitate him and take a stand against oppression and violations and speak out.

It is a matter of witnessing to our faith, by being prophetic and doing what our faith calls us to do. Faith without action is dead. Taking a stand for life is being alive and human. 

We must not be afraid to challenge wrongdoing or be intimidated by wrongdoers.

People who need to be investigated by Philippine authorities are those who have been bribing officials, running sex bars, and exploiting women and minors, not the missionaries who are serving the poor.

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.

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