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Press Release: Women rights group decry rape by “men in uniform,” scores the use of rape under Oplan

by Tanggol Bayi

On the first day of March as the internationally known Women’s Month, women’s rights group Tanggol Bayi scored the reported rape cases against two women in the provinces of Masbate and Rizal by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as “an indication of the continuing and brazen impunity perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).”

Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi spokesperson, said these cases and forms of violations speak volumes on the use of rape as a form of torture and subjugation, among the human rights violations, perpetrated under Oplan Bantay Laya, the counter-insurgency program of the previous Arroyo government, and now under Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration.

“Seemingly, these counter-insurgency programs stand on the principles of ‘human rights’ and ‘peace and development’ but the military operations on the ground belie the real purpose and nature behind these lofty words. Oplan Bayanihan, as Oplan Bantay Laya, merely means the increasing terror and violence experienced by the people, including women,” she stated.

Palabay recalled the cases of the two disappeared UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, which illustrates how rape and sexual violence have been used to dehumanize and torture women under Oplan Bantay Laya. According to torture survivor Raymond Manalo, Cadapan and Empeno were raped twice by soldiers under the command of Major Gen. Jovito Palparan. Charges of rape were included in the criminal complaint filed by the mothers of Sherlyn and Karen.

“After almost four months after the warrants of arrest came out, perpetrators led by General Palparan have not been arrested to account for the crimes he committed against Cadapan, Empeno and numerous other victims during the Arroyo regime. Such is the state of impunity in the country, that is why soldiers find it easy to rape and violate women and terrorize peoples at their own whim and will,” she commented.

Palabay is currently in Geneva, Switzerland as the head of the delegation of human rights groups under Philippine UPR Watch, a network which engages in the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council. The group aims to raise the issue of continuing human rights violations under the Aquino government. She will also be speaking at a side event on March 8 2012, International Women’s Day, on the situation of women human rights defenders sponsored by the International Service for Human Rights and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition.

REFERENCE: Cristina Palabay, Spokesperson, 09175003879

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