I am writing this as a Christian missionary who came to the Philippines 49 years ago. It was a critical time then — as it is now — and we have many challenges to our commitment to serve humanity, preserve life, love, and protect the stranger. Our commitment is to every person of whatever faith, creed, belief or those with none at all. Each of us as we live on this planet, survive in this world, corrupt and as beautiful as it is, ought to reflect on what is our commitment to life and to our fellow human being. The killings of thousands of innocents, the murder of priests and pastors
and lay church workers are an abomination. The mass jailing of the innocent without trial is a cruel injustice, depriving families of the support of their fathers, brothers and sisters. Even children are jailed in horrible sub-human conditions that are illegal and a violation of children's rights, which the state is supposed to protect and cherish. Our faith is challenged, our God is cursed and in all my time in the Philippines, even during the darkest days of martial law
, never has there been such a critical and dangerous time to be a child rights activist and journalist — and I am both. For all of us who believe in the dignity and equality of every person, we need to take a committed stand and act for justice and human dignity.
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An estimated 23,000 people have been killed, including children
, since May 2016. They were shot dead as suspects without evidence of a crime, without due process, without respect for their constitutional and legal rights but they have been mostly innocent suspects, Filipino people who have been executed without mercy. Do not these critical times challenge our commitment to serve the poor, the unjustly imprisoned, the indigenous people, the displaced, the exploited and abused? Yes, it is a challenge. But in the face of threats, vilification, lies and abuse, is our commitment any less, is it weakened, diminished, abandoned? No! Not for one minute, one hour, not one day. I believe that our commitment and that of dedicated Filipino people standing for the exploited and for children's rights is even greater today. That commitment of the true Filipino is all the stronger, all the more determined to struggle for freedom from this tyranny and injustice and to overcome with love and non-violence the indignities, insults and persecution. Let us not forget the vital words of that man from Nazareth who inspires us by example who endured greater indignities and told us, "Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God wants, the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them." (Matthew 5:10) Commitment is a very personal thing, what are we called to: a life as washers-of-feet, servant-leaders, child rights defenders, doers of justice, educators, and preachers and followers of the word? Surely, working for truth and justice is at the heart of our commitment to always do and say what is right. We can strengthen our commitment to these great values through solidarity, standing together, working as one, helping and defending all who are oppressed, threatened, defiled and abused, libeled, defamed by fake news and slandered. We are stronger in our commitment by putting our faith into action daily. By listening, understanding each other, communicating with each other, serving and helping. By sharing our stories of hardship, pain and suffering. We all need to be accepted and affirmed with peace and friendship. The Preda Foundation is the organization I founded in 1974 to protect children's rights and it and myself are presently the target of a hate campaign as are many. The sex mafia that abuse children is behind the social media attacks because our social workers rescued and protected abused children from them and we helped to convict some of them for human trafficking and abusing children. One of them is a female U.S. national that was jailed by the Philippine authorities for child neglect and abuse and for attacking government social workers that came to rescue the children. She was able to bribe her way out and escaped to the United States. But justice is coming for them all soon. She and her evil cronies try to get revenge, to vent their anger and hatred and assuage their guilt by retaliating in a vilification campaign through social media. It will come to nothing but to a day of reckoning for them. Such vilification is common. Many outspoken church workers, priests, pastors and bishops are vilified as was Jesus of Nazareth. They vilified him, arrested and tortured him and gave him the death penalty. Our faith is strong and we are not hurt or harmed. Such attacks do not diminish our commitment or dedication to fight for justice and truth for victims of oppression, sexual abuse and exploitation. Such false allegations do not make us afraid but make us stronger and more determined in our commitment. Because the truth, eternal goodness is on our side and we continue to share it and do what is just and right and it makes us free and strong. We have the commitment and determination and the resources to oppose and resist the evildoers and take a stand with the victimized. We defenders of children's rights and human rights must never allow ourselves to be intimidated, cowered and disheartened or afraid of any attack on our name, honor and faith. We must never give up the struggle, never falter or waiver; we must continue to stand for human dignity, the rights of all, the truth of life, to be defenders of exploited women and children, to love creation, to save the environment, to denounce evil, to speak the truth without fear. We continue to be prophetic as we announce the good news that love, kindness, justice, respect, and service will in the end overcome evil and truth will prevail. 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 sexual abuse.