GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Police in Cotabato province have called for a more aggressive effort to encourage victims of sexual abuse to come forward and hold their attackers accountable.
The call came after the arrest of a public school teacher linked to the local drug trade led to a barrage of complaints that he had allegedly abused several pupils.
Major Junrel Amotan, Tulunan town police chief, said on Monday, March 6, that victims of abuse must be properly informed of their rights to seek redress and hold offenders accountable, regardless of who they are.
Sexual violence against women and children is a persistent problem in the country, with one in 20 girls and women experiencing it, according to the Philippine Commission on Women.
In the case of the arrested teacher, it took weeks before the parents of the victims came forward one by one to report what he had allegedly done to their children aged eight to 10 years old.
At first, the victims and their families had chosen to remain silent to avoid embarrassment and public ridicule until after the teacher’s arrest, Amotan said.
The children alleged that the abuses happened repeatedly since 2022, inside school premises, and at times, in a toilet.
Since the victims are minors, police officials said, this could make the teacher liable for alleged statutory rape and for violating the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act of 1992.
The teacher has declined to comment about his arrest and on the accusations that he allegedly abused several children.
Police said complaints for the alleged sexual abuse have been submitted to local prosecutors.
Meanwhile, police in Kidapawan City, also in Cotabato province, are hunting an elderly faith healer identified as Romy Libarnez, who has been ordered arrested by a court for allegedly raping several women, including minors.
Kidapawan police chief Lieutenant Colonel Peter Pinalgan Jr. said Libarnez allegedly abused the victims during his so-called “healing sessions,” which included hypnotism and sex rituals.
An arrest warrant was issued by a court against him after some of the alleged victims filed cases. – Rappler.com
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