“It is abominable that Aquino did not even put on the agenda of his P8.8-million state visit to Japan the plight of Filipino comfort women and instead expressed his support for Japan in its plan to revitalize its military expansionist policy and the resurgent militarism in the whole Asia-Pacific region.” – Gabriela
By ANNE EDNALYN DELA CRUZ
MANILA — Many decades have passed yet justice has remained elusive for Filipino comfort women.
On Wednesday June 25, comfort women, together with women’s groups, trooped to the Japanese Embassy and Malacañang to reiterate their demands for apology and compensation from Japan and remind the President of his promise to bring justice to women victims of sexual slavery of the Japanese Army.
Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, an organization of Filipina comfort women, said their demand for justice from Japan has been an excruciating battle for them, especially because the government is not supportive of the issue.
Gabriela Secretary General Joms Salvador pointed out that President Aquino’s recent visit to Japan could have been used as an opportunity for the government to discuss with Japan the plight of Filipino comfort women, however, she said, Aquino opted to set aside the issue.
“It is abominable that Aquino did not even put on the agenda of his P8.8-million state visit to Japan the plight of Filipino comfort women and instead expressed his support for Japan in its plan to revitalize its military expansionist policy and the resurgent militarism in the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Salvador said.
“Our comfort women lolas are already in their twilight years, some have already died without attaining justice. It is utterly unforgiveable for Aquino to keep mum over these abuses. He is acting like Japan’s best buddy while setting aside justice for the people,” Extremadura said.
Extremadura added that the President’s recent talk with the Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also fueled the resurgence of militarism in the region. This, according to Extremadura, might breed sexual violence anew.
She called on both the Japanese and Philippine governments to act on their demands as the victims are already old and may never be able to attain justice while alive.
“The lolas are not getting any younger – in fact each year, we mourn for the demise of at least two members of Lila Pilipina. They hope to see justice served to them before their last breath. Compensation is a just demand because they need it especially in their twilight years,” Extremadura said.
In an interview, Extremadura also said that in 2010, President Aquino promised to take action on the demand of comfort women. However, four years after, nothing has been done and no compensation has been given to the women victims.
“They told us that there was already reparation, including the Asian Women’s Fund, and that they accepted the apology of [former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro] Koizumi. Yet, nothing was given to us,” Extremadura added.
Although there is still no end in sight to the comfort women’s quest for justice, Extremadura said, they would remain resolute in continuing their fight.
“There is pressure from the international community. When we went to Japan, we always call upon the people to do the pressuring themselves because I told them that the Japanese government would listen to its own people. I hope that the Japanese people would find a way. You would see from the determination on the faces of lolas that they would not stop fighting.” she concluded.