Gabriela stands AFP rape threats exist in Marawi

Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) stands by its account of women in Marawi City who complained of rape threats from members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This was their response after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced reports that women in Marawi are scared after government soldiers reportedly threatened to rape them.

According to the partylist, they find the statements of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana worrisome, dismissing our account as fake news and even resorting to red-tagging.

“With such defensive response, Secretary Lorenzana is substantiating the women victims’ fear of the military. It should be remembered that it was Secretary Lorenzana who said that the crisis will be finished in a week, only to retract his self-imposed deadline. It was also the retired general who was quick to claim that Marawi City Hall was taken over by armed men, a claim disputed by Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra who was there in the city hall. Now who is peddling fake news?” GWP stated.

GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas raised an alarm over stories on government troops who threatened to rape women if they don’t leave Marawi City amid President Duterte’s rape joke and with the Mindanao-wide martial law in effect.

Brosas personally heard the spontaneous disclosure of women regarding the rape threats, when she and representatives from the church sector, Moro organizations and other groups participated in the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) last June 14-15. But they cannot disclose the identities of the victims to the public since it is a very sensitive issue.

GWP filed House Resolution 1085 last week to urge fellow lawmakers to conduct an inquiry on the Marawi crisis, with particular emphasis on the impacts on women and children.

“The fact that there were women in Marawi who complained of rape threats, regardless if they are substantial in number or not, should be enough cause for alarm especially in view of AFP’s record of abuses against women,” GWP said in a statement.

The women’s partylist dares Sec. Lorenzana to spend a couple of days in Marawi City and nearby evacuation centers to talk to displaced women and children instead of quickly resorting to red-tagging and also to come up with a more grounded assessment of the situation in Marawi.

It was noted that AFP had a record on rape cases when three of its soldiers placed under court-martial because of the rape of a 14-year-old “lumad” girl from Davao del Norte on September 2015.

The rape incident occurred in a village in Talaingod during a series of attacks allegedly committed by paramilitary and government forces. (BaretangBikolnon.com)

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