Government Must Give Full Support to all Florences-Gabriela

NOVEMBER 24, 2010

DAVAO CITY – In time for the commemoration of the International Day of Protest on Violence Against Women, GABRIELA urged the government to show the same, if not more, support it gave to Florence, the volunteer nurse who was a victim of rape in Maguindanao, to other rape victims in the country.

According to Gabriela Davao Chairperson Emeritus Lyda Canson, “The government’s overwhelming support for Florence should also be received by the other 233 victims of rape in Davao City since these women have suffered so much.”

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“We commend the government’s full support to Florence but there is still a greater need to prove its sincerity in supporting the women who are victims of rape and injustices. What about Rebelyn Pitao, who was raped and murdered on account of her being a daughter of a known revolutionary fighter? What happened to her case?” Canson stressed.

“In the list of victims, the unreported cases are still not included, and we are urging the victims to come out to be able to receive the support and therapy they needed and to help in our campaign to end this grave repression and violence against women,” she added while citing the reports from the Women and Children Protection Desk of Davao City.

The group will be highlighting the issue of rape from among the acts of violence against women in tomorrow’s cultural program dubbed “Rage Against Rape: I Vow to fight VAW” which will be participated in by various women’s organizations in the city.

“We are alarmed that even with the existence of Anti-Rape Law that aims to ensure punishment for the rapists, rape cases still continue to rise and what’s even more alarming is the fact that there are perpetrators who are evidently doing it without any fear of authority and laws,” said Canson.

“This brutality against women happens because the government fails to really address the issue of rape. The Aquino administration, as in the past governments, is generally reactive; it only responds to high-profile cases like Florence or to those cases the perpetrators or the victims of whom belong to influential or affluent families,” she added.

Canson cited that the existing laws together with the government’s handling of rape cases have proven to be lack of proper orientation on the law that will genuinely protect the rights and welfare of the victim, aside from the apparent gender insensitivity of the justice system.

Gabriela cited for instance the case of Karen Vertido wherein the suspect was acquitted but after filing the case using the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP UNCEDAW), the UNCEDAW favored Vertido and declared that the government must compensate her.

“The culture of ‘victim-blaming’ is still high among the authorities including the police, prosecutors, lawyers and judges. When you see that your law enforcement officials, your legislators, and those in authorities are still biased against the victims, you also see a citizenry that discriminate rape victims,” Canson said.

“Their sincerity will be seen by giving full support for the victims of rape through amending some of the provisions in the Anti-Rape Law and heeding the recommendations of the UNCEDAW in terms of handling the rape cases,” Canson said.

“The government’s genuine support to women who are victims of rape and victims of other Violence Against Women cases will only be seen in its active promotion, protection and fulfillment of women’s rights and welfare,” she said.

“We also enjoin everyone to actively participate in our campaign to end VAW thru public awareness, organizing and mobilizing women to fight against VAW,” Canson concluded. (

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