“If these perpetrators remain scot-free, there would be more VAW victims like ‘Jessa’ and ‘Sienna’.”
By KILAB MULTIMEDIA
DAVAO CITY – “Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody ever deserves to suffer from the hands of soldiers or any man in uniform. That is why I am fighting for my right, as well as for those who became victims of sexual violence.”
This was the statement of “Jessa” (not her real name), a 16-year old mother who was allegedly raped by whom she named as Private First Class Benjie Blancada under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last Nov. 17 in Sitio Maloos, Brgy. Sinuda in Kitaotao, Bukidnon. Blancada is from the 84th Infantry Battalion of the AFP.
Jessa recalled and narrated the facts of the case in a press conference organized by Gabriela- Southern Mindanao Region last Dec. 9.
On Nov. 17 while breastfeeding her baby, Blancada suddenly entered her room and covered her face with a pillow. Eventually, she was weakened as the perpetrator pushed the pillow harder against her face and raped her. After the incident, Blancada ran away. Jessa saw that there were two soldiers who served as lookout outside their house. She also heard Blancada and his companions laughing after the incident.
“I cannot forgive what Benjie Blancada has done to me. I want him behind bars. I want him to realize that it is so wrong to force himself on any minor or adult woman. I want his madness to end. He must not victimize anybody again,” Jessa said.
She also filed charges against the two other soldiers for being accomplices to the crime.
Jessa said she was not the first victim of Blancada. Other rape victims were gagged and paid to keep their silence. Jessa encouraged all women victims to speak out in order to put an end to the criminal activities of these soldiers.
“That is why I am determined to push my case against Blancada, hoping that this will serve as a warning to other soldiers and police to end their violence against women and children. My case also serves as an inspiration to VAW victims to stand and fight,” Jessa concluded.
According to Gabriela SMR spokesperson Mary Ann Sapar, the rape cases in the country have become alarming. Data from the Philippine National Police noted a 35 percent increase in rape cases during the first 10 months of 2014 with 7,306 cases compared to 4,737 cases in the same period last year. Crimes committed against minors reached 76.9 percent, while 23.1 percent were against adult women.
Meanwhile, Davao City Police Office has recorded 218 rape cases from Jan. to Dec. 3 of this year compared to last year’s 170 cases.
Gabriela stressed that VAW (Violence Against Women) cases perpetrated by men in uniform are more distressing. Soldiers and policemen, the supposed protector of civilians, especially the most vulnerable women and children, have become the bold and shameless violators of rights.
Gabriela’s National Office recorded 136 VAW cases committed by the AFP and 42 by the PNP since 2010 until the third quarter of 2014.
Last year, 16-year old ‘Sienna’ was allegedly raped in two separate incidents by soldiers in Paluan, Oriental Mindoro. One soldier came from the 80th Infantry Battalion, while the other two were from the 76th IB.