Students march in Kabacan town in North Cotabato as a show of support to 17-year old rape victim. (Photos by Suara Bangsamoro/Mindanao Examiner)
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 08, 2008) – Hundreds of students and women rights advocates condemned marched in North Cotabato province to seek justice and condemn the rape of a 17-year old student by an heir to one of the most influential clan in central Mindanao.
The protesters also appealed to the Department of Justice and local provincial officials to resolve immediately the case. They also urged the National Bureau of Investigations and the Philippine National Police to arrest the suspect and his cohorts.
They said the student was forcibly taken by three people from her dorm in Kabacan town on February 25 and returned later in the day and said she was raped at a lodging house. The victim is a student of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM).
Bai Ali Indayla, national secretary-general of Suara Bangsamoro, said that they have received reports of numerous rape cases and sexual harassments inside the USM campus, but “it is only now that a victim courageously speaks out and file a legal case against the well-known perpetrator.”
Indayla said various human rights organizations, including Gabriela Women’s Party and lawyers and North Cotabato 1st District Rep. Emmylou Mendoza have already expressed support to the victim and her family get justice.
She said USM students marched in Kabacan and lighted candles in support to the victim.
She said Kabacan Mayor George Tan and the town’s councilors, including university professors are also supporting the students.
“We dare the administration of USM to stand for justice especially for their student. The victim’s courage as well as the witnesses is commendable. We appreciate so much the bravery of the victim’s family to cope with their daughter’s ordeal and took legal action to search justice and prosecute the perpetrators. We appeal to all victims of sexual violence to speak out and fight. Silence will tolerate the horrible and devilish act of these perpetrators,” Indayla said in a statement. (With a report from Mark Navales)