BANAWE, Ifugao — With rape registering one-fifth of all index crimes in the province, officials here and the visiting regional heads of government agencies agreed violence against women and children is a social concern that should be addressed with certain urgency.
Gov. Teddy Baguilat considers some social problems, besides rape, as the greatest threat to the Ifugao’s peace and order mentioning that while province has been declared jueteng-free, some other vices and problems still manifest.
“If we are to prepare a place where we could nurture the future of our children, then it should also be free of social problems,” Baguilat said. “This is a generally peaceful province, but it has its share in the region’s problems,” he said as he greeted participants to the Regional Peace and Order Council, which held a meeting at the Banawe Hotel, here, Friday.
In his report to the Provincial Peace and Order Council, which also met at the same venue, shortly before the RPOC meeting started, Provincial Police Director Joseph Adnol said Ifugao is the only province with no problems concerning Communist rebels.
Both officials, however, acknowledged the relatively high incidence of sexual abuse, especially among minors.
In his orientation paper Adnol mentioned that rape consisted 21% of all index crimes in the province in a one-year period. Physical injuries comprised 17% while homicide registered 9%. Other crimes registered low with robbery (5%), theft (4%) and murder (1%).
The Cordillera PNP report during the RPOC meeting also mentioned rape occurrence in Benguet and other provinces of the Cordillera.
This was confirmed by Provincial Social Welfare Officer Joyce Niwani, who said the DSWD is looking into violence against women and children, especially now that she receives reports that these violations happen inside the homes.
“Local folk are aware of what is happening and they come to us to report the incidents,” Niwani told the press in an interview.
Police Regional Director Eugene Martin, however, clarified, the registered crimes do not necessarily reflect the true picture because only those which have been pursued in court are included in the listing of crimes. Martin said the Philippine National Police is following a national directive.
“Once you look at the police blotter, the list may be longer,” Martin clarified. He said, a lot of cases reported in the police blotter pass through amicable settlement, and are usually stricken out.
Niwani said government agencies encourage the filing of legal cases against the perpetrators so that they get the corresponding treatment under the law.
Meanwhile, both Niwani and Baguilat said the Summit on Women and Children in November would be a good step at raising people’s consciousness on VAW/C but agree that the activity alone could not address the problem. # Lyn V. Ramo