By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Is violence against women and children, the “new normal” in Tinoc, Ifugao, Mountain Province?
Makibaka, a member-organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), condemned in a statement the multiple rape of a child allegedly perpetrated by a soldier of the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
In an earlier statement, the Nona del Rosario Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) said that the victim was only 15 years old when she was first raped in November 2018. She was raped again in March 2019 after the same soldier “tried to befriend her.”
The NPA said soldiers belonging to the 54th Infantry Battalion offered the family an amount of P70,000. However, the victim and her family “continue to seek justice for the violence and oppression they have experienced.”
Makibaka said that the soldiers were in the community as they were encamping in the vicinity’s community under the Community Support Program Operations, a program of the Philippine military to supposedly provide services to the people.
This program, however, ended up disrupting the livelihood of the people, destroying the harmony of communities, and criminalizing legitimate struggles of the people, according to Makibaka.
Aside from the victim’s case, there are three other reported rape cases perpetrated by the 54th Infantry Battalion soldiers since 2008, Makibaka said.
“This is aside from countless complaints of sexual harassment, majority coming from women that the soldiers are courting, and high school students in various barangays in the Ifugao province,” the group said.