Women’s groups observe Subic rape victim b-day
Lit candles, condemn violence against women
BAGUIO CITY (Sept.22) — Various women’s organizations observed the Subic rape case victim Nicole’s 23rd birthday with a candle lighting ceremony and noise barrage at KM. 0, Baguio City today.
This was to show their support to Nicole’s case, as well as their condemnation against all forms of violence against women. Innabuyog-Gabriela, Gabriela Youth (GY), Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), (Lesbond) and Sigma Delta Pi Sorority and Men in Purple, a men’s organization fighting for women’s rights, joined the said activity.
According to Teresa Manglicmot, coordinator of Gabriela Youth – Metro Baguio, there is really no reason to celebrate Nicole’s birthday because her case is still unsolved. She added the trade-off between United States and Philippines on their citizen, particularly to free the accused US soldiers in exchange for the freedom of Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, who is currently detained in the US.
Meanwhile, in a forum on the Subic rape case, Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and violence against women (VAW) held at the University of the Philippines Baguio last September 20, women’s rights lawyer and the lead private prosecutor of the Subic rape case Evalyn Ursua said, the rules of procedures in a criminal case, were not properly implemented for there were jumping from one step to another.
Ursua also said the one-year trial provisions of the VFA, would greatly affect the quality of the case proceedings, especially in the pursuit of truth and justice. She also added that Nicole did not want to show up to court again because of the embarrassment she experienced during the trial last Tuesday from one of the state prosecutors. She also said the DOJ prosecutors doubt Nicole’s story and even called her a “liar”. Ursua said that, Nicole wanted to have a new set of state prosecutors.
Member of Task Force in Subic Rape (TFSR) Esperanza Santos, discussed the flaws of the implementation of the VFA, particularly the unclear and undefined restrictions regarding the extent of access of the US service men inside the Philippine territory. She also said TFSR, a multi-sectoral organization, supports not just Nicole’s case but all those violated by US men and is against the VFA.
Santos added that TFSR do not approve of VFA due to the controversial and unconstitutional provisions of the agreement, the special privileges US soldiers and the crimes it has committed against the country’s sovereignty. She said that all of these are clear manifestations of VFA’s disrespect to our laws. She also added the dangers brought about by the VFA to the country such as us being a target of the enemies of the US, allowing the US government to meddle with our internal policies and our exposure to environmental hazards.
Ursua said that Nicole is currently experiencing the common prejudices to rape victims particularly “victim blaming”. Both Ursua and Santos reiterated that no one deserves to be raped.
Santos also called on the public to support Nicole and help them bring to justice the perpetrators. # Michael Julius P. Rubio for NORDIS