GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 March)—Police authorities in Cotabato province saw a need for more aggressive move to get victims of sexual abuse to come out and take their attackers to court and make them accountable for their offense.
Victims of abuse must be properly appraised of their rights in seeking redress and make offenders, whoever they are, accountable for their wicked actions, pointed out Major Junrel Amotan, Tulunan town police chief, in a phone interview on Monday.
The police official made the remark after a public elementary school teacher who was arrested for drugs became the object of sexual assault complaints by parents of his pupils
It took weeks before parents of the alleged victims of the teacher surfaced one after the other to report what he allegedly did to their children aged 8 to 10 years old, according to Amotan.
The teacher, the police official revealed, was arrested on the evening of February 3, during a drug buy-bust at Purok 6, barangay Tambak in Tulunan. An undercover policeman was reportedly able to buy two packs of shabu (methamphetamine) from him.
Two weeks after the arrest, parents of 14 of school pupils in Grade 2 and 3 at the Damawato Elementary School began to come out and divulge the sexual abuses that their children allegedly suffered from the teacher.
Police investigators said the victims being minors makes the teacher liable for alleged statutory rape, which does not distinguish between consensual or forcible sexual act, a violation of RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act of 1992.
The teacher, said Amotan, declined to comment on the accusations.
The police said it was only recently that the children told their parents about the alleged abuses because the teacher threatened to harm them if they told anyone about it.
The police called on residents in the town who could have children who may have been a victim of sexual abuse or harassments to come forward and file the necessary complaints.
In Tulunan’s neighboring Kidapawan City, police also made the same call as they continue to hunt an elderly cult leader for allegedly raping several women, including minors, who went to him for healing at his residence in Kidapawan City, Cotabato province.
Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the local police swooped down at the house of Romy Libarnez in sitio Caloocan, barangay Paco in Kidapawan, but failed to catch him, said Lt. Col. Peter Pinalgan Jr., Kidapawan police chief.
Libarnez, also known as Dodong, is a popular quack doctor or “albularyo” in their place for a time now.
Pinalgan said Libarnez managed to escape but policemen were able to arrest his wife Aurora, 65, and another accomplice, Esnowhite Monares, 45. The two, now in custody at the police station in Kidapawan, refused to answer queries from newsmen.
An arrest warrant was issued by the court against the three after some parents of their minor “patients” complained to authorities.
Pinalgan said Libarnez uses his private part during healing sessions, telling his “patients” that it is blessed with healing powers as he engaged them in sex.
The youngest of Libarnez’s alleged victims was a five-year-old girl, Pinalgan said.
Reports gathered by the police said Monares acts as agent of the couple in looking for patients. Monares reportedly collects P15,000 payment from each patient.
Police suspected that Libarnez belonged to a cult with a large following because they can easily entice patients to their healing rituals.
Some of the victims, who asked not to be named, said they were hypnotized by the Libarnez couple into engaging in a sexual act.
The Philippine Commission on Women said sexual violence against women and children remains one of the most persistent problems in the country, with one in 20 girls and women having experienced the suffering. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)