Americans Targeted for Allegedly Running Underage Prostitution in Philippines


Finally, the authorities agree to take the girls to a Department of Social Welfare and Development center in nearby Papanga. Soon after, Princess admits to being 16 and her birth certificate confirms it. Four others have birth certificates showing they are of age, but the social workers suspect they could be fakes and their dental exams suggest they are minors.

Marisol, the 18-year-old who led Father Shay to Benjamin, says she will never go back to the bars and Preda is trying to give her work. Jade has disappeared. NBI says the house behind the bar is empty.

Three weeks after the raid, Benjamin and Mama Lucy remain in jail in Manila, held as the prosecution debates what to charge them with.

The Filipino authorities are doing "very, very little" to solve the plague of underage prostitution, Father Shay says. "There are some good, dedicated people. They are struggling. They have no budgets, no money."

He admits that the problem is overwhelming, that his contributions are small. But he remains defiant, even as he believes the problem is getting worse.

"I don't think give up is in our vocabulary. We will fight on. We have got all these children to save," Father Shay says. "And we rehabilitate and give them a new life and a great start in the future. We have a good organization here at Preda.

"So we'll keep on," he says, "We'll never give up."

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