PH hard pressed to comply with UN proposals on rape law

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 March) – The Philippine government has less than two weeks left to comply with the recommendations of a United Nations committee to ensure legal protection of women rape victims.

Former Akbayan representative Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel, who is currently the party spokesperson, expressed dismay that “government appears to have not taken any tangible action to act on these recommendations”.

Reacting to the delay, she warned her group would file a formal complaint with both Malacanang and the UN body if government failed to come up with the recommended remedial measures.

“It (government) was given six months to act on these things,” she said Wednesday

The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) found sufficient basis in the argument of Karen Vertido of the Davao City business chamber that government failed to protect her rights and to shield her from discrimination.

Cedaw recommended that government should provide Vertido with “appropriate compensation commensurate with the gravity of the violations of her rights” and to address certain provisions in the law on rape and to correct certain court practices in the prosecution that tended to discriminate rape victims.

Vertido’s case dragged for 14 years in Philippine courts.

Baraquel said the Akbayan would “definitely write a formal letter of complaint with the executive department and the UN if nothing would be done [way up] to the second week after the deadline in March”.

She said she would write the National Commission on Women and the government agencies to officially receive their formal complaint.

Baraquel was here as a guest in the commemoration of the 74th founding day of Davao City.

Reports last year quoted Vertido’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, as having said that the UN has also asked the government “to make its legislation conform to the prevailing international jurisprudence on rape, such as, for example, the case of M.C. v. Bulgaria (by the European Court of Human Rights) and the decisions of the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.”

Vertido’s case was the first from the Asia Pacific and the first ever rape case decided under the Optional Protocol of the Cedaw.

Asked to comment on the UN recommendation, former Partylist Rep. Patricia Sarenas said last week that she could note some measures being undertaken by government and that “the UN maintains a regular check on how governments were responding to certain UN recommendations”.

“I would suppose that there have been actions on that, especially on the part of the Department of Justice,” she added.

But Baraquel warned that noncompliance with the UN recommendations would turn into a serious backlash on the Aquino government “especially that it is still a new administration”.

“Nakakahiya (It’s shameful), in case it would fail,” she said. (MindaNews)