Editorial & Opinion

When the Rule of Law Fails

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It was by doing the right thing and alerting the police that a person with knowledge and commitment to defending children’s rights saved a 13-year-old child from possible rape and sexual abuse. The concerned person saw a 69-year-old foreign male bring a small child into a motel in Cagayan De Oro City last week.

The child, it was learned, had run away from home in Bukidnon and was living rough on the streets of Cagayan De Oro. If the social workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development interview the child victim, they will surely learn why she ran away. It could well be that she was abused in her own home by a relative or even by her own father. Seventy percent of the children rescued by social workers, based on our experience, are sexually abused in the home and they cannot endure it and run away to escape from the abuse. So the social workers may find a case to be made against the possible abuser in Bukidnon.

The foreign suspect, a US national by the name Anthony Bruce Mallet, was arrested and is held in the Cagyan De Oro Police Station. He had to have help to find and recruit the child, to persuade her to go with him allegedly to be sexually abused. A street child is normally frightened of strangers especially foreigners. His live-in partner ought to be a suspect too and questioned also. Mallet, despite the very strong evidence against him, is still presumed innocent until proven guilty. We will trust in the honesty of the prosecutor and the judge to determine guilt.

For 80 percent of the Filipino children who are victimized by foreign pedophiles, there is a pimp involved who lures and persuades and grooms the child to do sex acts with a foreigner. Peter Scully, the Australian, an alleged notorious pedophile who sexually abused, tortured and killed a child on video and sold it abroad had a few young women pimps working for him. In televised interviews he did not deny the charges.

Mallet, if he was arrested inside a room with the child, is in direct violation of the child protection law otherwise known as Republic Act 7610. It is forbidden to be in any secluded place with a minor who is not a blood relative. It does not have to be that a sexual act occurred or even proven that the child was sexually assaulted. Before RA 7610, many police, prosecutors and judges claimed that there was no crime if the abusive act did not occur.

That meant that the police had to wait outside the door of the room until the child was raped, abused and traumatized for life before rescuing him or her and arresting the suspect. The attempted sexual abuse, like attempted robbery, or attempted homicide or murder is sufficient to charge the suspect with a crime.

In the case of Lilian May Thomson (Zimmer), another US national with an outstanding Philippine arrest warrant, the evidence showed that the children were held in a secluded place for some time and the medical evidence and the statements of the children showed the children had been sexually abused. How they were abused and by whom has yet to be answered by Thomson. She denied all charges and the case was strangely dismissed on a technicality.

The root cause of human trafficking and recruitment of children into the sex industry is the utter failure of law enforcement to recognize the law, and believe in it and implement it. However many police and local politicians issue permits to sex bars and brothels and allow it to thrive. They do not see it as a serious issue or as a “real” crime even though the law says it is. The law in the Philippines is usually what the authorities choose it to be.

The police action in the war-on-drugs is to put aside the rule of law and shoot suspects without evidence or to get or allow vigilantes to do it for payment. They do not have the moral values or commitment to the meaning of law and its enforcement. They interpret the law as they see fit. And according to them, underage sex is not a serious crime it, appears. Some police are known to operate brothels with underage children also.

The murder of a Korean businessman by a policeman within a hundred meters of the office of the chief of police in Camp Crame in Metro Manila is another example when the rule of law is violated by those sworn and paid to uphold it.

The more recent discovery of the group of innocent civilians held by police in Tondo, Manila hidden in a secret cell in the police station behind a cupboard is equally shocking. They were illegally held and would be released on payment of large sums of money, according to them. The officials of the Commission on Human Rights rescued them.

People in general give little value to children that are not their own. The street children are seen as petty criminals and expendable. The minors are not considered victims by the police if found in sex bars but are considered guilty of a crime. The corrupt police then exploit the young girls. They are threatened with criminal charges to make them do what the corrupt police want, such as giving sexual favors in some cases. The sex bar owners will have to pay a big sum of money to get them back. The authorities tend to blame the children and minors for the crimes of adults.

We have to work for a return to sanity, cleansing of the corrupt police and a return to strict honest rule of law. We are descending into uncivilized barbarity.

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