MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Friday, March 9, that a law would be needed to act on Filipino comfort women’s claims for the abuses they suffered during World War II.
“And we will have to talk to Congress, to Speaker and to the Senate president about the legislation necessary to act on this matter about comfort women kasi hindi tayo nakapag-pass ng legislation. Hindi natapos ‘yong trabaho (we were unable to pass legislation. The job was not finished) before so we have to continue doing the job,” the justice secretary told reporters on Friday.
The DOJ chief also said that responding to the victims’ claims against Japan is part of the Philippine commitment to the international community: “That’s history and something that is common, most known to us. And ang sense naman diyan siyempre, you never want justice to be too late kasi ilan na lang ang nabubuhay sa kanila. Kaya sana mahabol pa natin.”
(That’s history and something that is common, most known to us. And our sense there is, of course, you never want justice to be too late because only a few of the victims are still alive. So we hope we are able to do it before it’s too late.)
The DOJ chief has yet to explain what type of legislation would be needed. Based on the Philippine government’s structure, Congress’ two chambers – the House of Representatives and the Senate – are tasked with formulating and passing necessary laws.
During International Women’s Day, on March 8, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women said the Philippines “violated the rights” of Filipino comfort women after it failed to provide reparation, social support, and recognition for the violations they had suffered.
The UN body also urged the Philippines to “provide full and effective redress and reparation, including compensation, satisfaction, official apologies, and rehabilitative services.”
Comfort women were abused, tortured, and raped by Japanese soldiers during World War II. In barracks they set up, Filipino women were held as sexual slaves.
Change of position?
In 2010, the Malaya Lolas, a group of comfort women, filed a petition for certiorari, with an application for a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction before the Supreme Court (SC) against government agencies like the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General. The petition was filed to urge the Philippine government to aid the comfort women in their battle for reparation.
However, the Philippine government argued that all claims of the Philippines and its citizens in relation to the war with Japan had already been settled in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 and the bilateral reparations agreement of 1956. The SC later dismissed the comfort women’s petition. Nine years after their loss at the High Court, the comfort women sued the Philippine government at the UN.
When asked why the current administration seems to have change its position on the issue, Remulla replied, “We will study that.” – Rappler.com
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