'Westerners took us to dark caves to use our bodies for sex'

BUBCHUKOY, now 14, is one of the luckier Filipino street children, rescued from prostitution by the Bahay Tuluyan programme for street children in Manila, Toni Turner writes.

At eight he was forced to beg on the streets for food as he could no longer stand the beatings at home. He lived for years in a park. At 12 he was lured into prostitution by a man who only fed Bubchukoy when he handed over the money he was paid by foreign paedophiles.

Last week he came to Britain with four other boys to explain the plight of Filipino street children to the Home Office and plead for the Government to prosecute Britons who go abroad to use children's bodies.

"We were often taken in groups to dark places, like caves, for American, British and other Western men to use our bodies," he said. "They would ask us to have sex with each other while they watched and sometimes filmed, and then they would demand sex.

"We took drugs so we would not know what was happening or feel the beatings. We want the British Government to help us save these children."

The programme director, Nicanor Arriola, who was himself once a street child in Manila, said he wanted British officals to hear first-hand of the horror to which Britons were subjecting South-east Asian children.

He says that after spending an hour with a Home Office adviser, Lee Hughes, he and the boys were assured the Prime Minister would be told of their tale and something would be done to stop British involvement in child- sex tourism.

The Bahay Tuluyan centre is now home for more than 50 children and regularly helps another 200. Former street children like Bubchukoy are trained to go back on the streets and teach their successors they have some value and rights.

"These children," Mr Arriola explained, "have spent most of their lives believing they have no worth. They have been victimised by pimps and paedophiles and abandoned as if they are garbage. They help each other and will listen to kids from the programme like Bubchukoy.

"It's incredible to see children as young as 12 teach others of eight or younger that they have rights. But it's difficult when you know that a child who stands up for himself will be the one likely to be beaten the most by some police."