June 21, 2024

Benguet province will need a facility that will serve as a halfway house following the reported cases of abuse against women and children in the province, according to Benguet caretaker Eric Yap.

Aside from temporary housing, the facility would offer free psychological assessment and other interventions needed for the victims to overcome their trauma, as Yap reported that  several victims of abuse approached his office seeking assistance.

Last week, a mother and child sought the help of Yap for legal assistance together with Col. Reynaldo Pasiwen, provincial director of the Benguet Provincial Police Office, following the arrest of a rape suspect. 

Based on police investigation, while the victims’ parents were out of their home, the suspect took advantage of the situation as he allegedly started to abuse the first victim, then a seven-year-old, in 2014.    

In 2017, the suspect abused another victim, who was 10 years old. The abuse continued until 2018.  

Without being caught, the suspect started sexually abusing the third victim in November 2021, who was 11 years old.

In a separate case February this year, Yap assisted the family of the 10-year-old rape slay victim in Itogon. He handed financial assistance to the parents of the victim and paid for the funeral expenses of the victim.

Yap condemned the killing and vowed for swift justice for the victim, whose body was found the next day in a ravine after being reported missing earlier. The 40-year-old suspect, who was a neighbor of the victim in the mining town, is now in jail and waiting for trial for murder and rape charges.  

Women and Children Protection Center-Cordillera Head Maj. Marcy Grace Marron said cases of rape arose not only in the Cordillera but nationwide in this pandemic.

She said victims were confined in spaces with their perpetrators. In their data, there are 220 cases of rape reported in 2020 and 208 cases in 2021 involving women and children in the region.

Marron acknowledged that there is a lack of government-run halfway houses per region and ideally, there should be at least one facility per province to house abused victims. – Ofelia C. Empian