“Angeline’s” quiet life in the university suddenly turned tragic after she was abducted from her boarding house, brought to a lodging house, and allegedly raped. This, said the Suara Bangsamoro Party, is not the first case of rape and sexual harassment that occurred within the premises of University of Southern Mindanao in North Cotabato.
Vol. VIII, No. 7, March 16-29, 2008
COTABATO CITY – “Angeline,” not her real name, is a 17 year old Human Ecology and Food Sciences student at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato. But her quiet life in the university turned tragic on the evening of February 25. According to her companions at the boarding house where she stays, Angeline was abducted around 6 p.m. by a certain Bianca Montawal Paglas who was accompanied by two men.
At around 11 p.m., Angeline came back to her boarding house with bloodstains on her body. Alarmed, her friends called up Angeline’s father. Angeline’s father, accompanied by her friends, went immediately to the nearest police station and filed a complaint.
In her affidavit, Angeline pointed to Datu Andy Montawal as the man who raped her. She recounted that after she was abducted from her boarding house, she was brought to the Pareng Bong’s Lodging House where Montawal allegedly raped her.
According to the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Bangsamoro) Party, Montawal belongs to an influential family from Maguindanao. Bai Ali Indayla, national secretary-general of Suara Bangsamoro, said that they have received numerous reports of rape and sexual harassment cases inside the USM campus. But Angeline is the first victim to courageously speak out and seek justice against a member of a powerful clan.
Together with Indayla’s group, various organizations including Gabriela Women’s Party, North Cotabato 1st District Representative Emmylou Santos-Mendoza, lawyers and other individuals have already expressed support to Angeline and her family in their quest for justice to put her attackers behind bars.
A candle-lighting activity for justice was held March 5 at the USM campus. It was spearheaded by the College of Human Ecology and Food Sciences (CHEFS) local student government and was supported by Kabacan Mayor George Tan and the town councilors, CHEFS Dean Aleha Plasa Salik, USM Director of Students Affairs Nicolas Turnos, University Student Government (USG) president Junmar Bañas, CHEFS governor Ralph Ryan Rafael and the faculty and staff of all colleges and institutes in the University.
On March 6, around 7,000 USM students, faculty, staff, and other concerned individuals wore black t-shirts and red wristbands and joined the USG-led indignation rally. The aim of the rally was to seek immediate action from the local government of Kabacan to support the quest for justice of Angeline and other rape victims as well as to institute measures to curb the crimes of rape in the town. It also called on the Fiscal Samuel Fajardo to expedite Angeline’s case and to immediately put the perpetrators in jail.
The group also demanded for the closure of Pareng Bong’s Lodging House where Angeline was allegedly raped and for police visibility in the USM campus to safeguard the safety of the students.
Suara Bangsamoro challenged the USM administration, which has not yet issued a formal statement condemning the incident, to speak out and seek justice for Angeline and other rape victims.
“We dare the administration of USM to stand for justice and to commend the courage of their student Angeline as well as the witnesses. We admire the bravery of Angeline’s family in taking legal action to run after the perpetrators and obtain justice. 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.
“Suara Bangsamoro strongly condemns all forms of violence against women and children and pledge continuous support to Angeline and all victims of sexual abuses in their quest for justice,” Indayla concluded. (Bulatlat.com)