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Franciscan’s Fr. Almazan is new AMRSMP chair

Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM

MANILA, June 30, 2016— A Franciscan missionary was elected as the new chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors Men (AMRSMP) in the Philippines.

Fr. Cielito Almazan, Minister Provincial of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista, will head the 60-year old organization that was established to foster close collaboration among the religious men.

He will succeed Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, OP, who acted as AMRSMP chair after Fr. Leo Dalmao, CMF, was elected council member of the Claretian general government in Rome in September 2015.

The election was held during the convention of men superiors at Maryridge Retreat House in Tagaytay City from June 28 – July 1, 2016.

Fr. Dexter Toledo, former  AMRSP executive secretary, said Almazan’s election signalled to the country the organization’s commitment to sustainability.

“It seems that it is a statement that AMRSP men wish to look more deeply into the issues related to the environment since the Franciscans are known for that,” Toledo said.

The men religious also elected Claretian Provincial Superior Fr. Eduardo Apungan as their new Vice Chairperson.

The new AMRSMP board members include: Br. Jose Mari Jimenez, FSC; Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong, SDB; Fr. Copernicus Perez Jr., CSsR; Fr. Joseph Matitu, SSS and Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ.

The 3-day convention reflected on the theme “Merciful Like the Father: The Challenge to Men Religious Today” and tackled several issues including climate change.

Members of the AMRSP women currently chaired by Sr. Cecilia Bayona, AMP, are also set to elect their new set of officers when they convene for their general assembly next week. (CBCPNews)

Child sex workers out PNP ‘hulidap’ scheme

Dr. Dinah Nadera discussed the protection mechanisms of the study. (Photo: Mike Quilala)

MANILA, June 30, 2016 – What happens when those who have sworn to serve and protect become the aggressors and abusers? According to a group of researchers, this is exactly what happens with the “hulidap” ploy used by several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to coerce child sex workers into giving free sexual favors.

“For example, one of the key informant interviewees (KII) that we talked to…this KII, a former CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children) [victim], who became a pimp, said [hulidap] is something that they protect themselves from,” said Sucelle Czarina Deacosta, one of the Psychosocial Support and Children’s Rights Resource Center (PSTCRRC) researchers who recently completed a study on CSEC in Metro Manila.

According to Deacosta, the reality of “hulidap” surfaced when the pimp they interviewed, who deals with mostly online transactions, used the word “hulidap” when talking about common concerns in CSEC.

“As the police know the small hotels, for example, Sogo, the girls frequent, so they threaten them with being caught unless they agree to sex,” explained the researcher.

Institutionalized?

While the PSTCRRC study commissioned by Plan International involved a limited pool of research subjects – 32 children, teens involved in the sex industry in the metro, a pimp, a poseur customer, and service providers – the fact that a good number of the respondents described “hulidap” as routine practice points to its veracity, said the researcher.

“What we have are responses of the participants only so whether if it’s that institutionalized or not we cannot say… Like what we said, we take the responses of the participants at face value,” stressed Deacosta, who together with project leader Elizabeth Protacio – De Castro, Ph.D., Dinah Palmera Nadera, M.D., Marie Therese Galang, M.D. and Agnes Zenaida Camacho, worked on the “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Metro Manila” study to shed light on the conditions and realities of children involved in prostitution in the city.

“From their perspective it’s something that they actually worry about. We don’t really know,” said Deacosta in Filipino and English.

Subtle harassment

According to Deacosta, since those involved in CSEC are minors, instead of getting detained, they are forced to give free sexual favors to law enforcers.

Sometimes, said the researchers, “hulidap” takes the form of verbal harassment or seemingly innocent allusions to the big pay the CSEC victims get, implying that the police should get a cut somehow.

“[Sometimes,] it happens in hotels or as one said, aboard roving mobiles… Sometimes, it’s subtle, [the police will say], ‘So, are we earning well?’” said Deacosta in Filipino.

The other female pimp the PSTCRRC team got to interview also mentioned having a lot of PNP customers and cited an “instance of intimidation by a police customer who brought gun and handcuffs during a transaction,” revealed Deacosta.

The PSTCRRC paper, which was presented during a stakeholders’ meeting on June 3 at at the Sequioa Hotel, Quezon City, aimed to update the facts and figures about CSEC in the Philippines. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)