Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday urged her colleagues in the Senate to pursue the passage of the bill seeking to protect female detainees from sexual abuse and harassment.
De Lima made the call following the reported sexual harassment against former Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog by a police officer assigned at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Service Unit.
Lt. Col. Jigger Noceda has already been removed from his post and charged with a criminal case for allegedly harassing Parojinog, who said Noceda sexually assaulted her twice on June 9 and on September 7.
“Kung nagagawa ang ganitong pang-aabuso sa isang high-profile detainee sa loob mismo ng Camp Crame, paano pa kaya sa mga ordinaryong correctional facilities (If such kind of abuse can happen to a high-profile detainee inside Camp Crame, how much more in ordinary correctional facilities?” De Lima said.
“Violence against Women (VAW) in detention is an institutional problem which persists with brazen impunity,” she added.
“Walang ibang matakbuhan ang mga kababaihang detainees kaya nananahimik na lang ang marami sa kanila. Kaya’t tuloy-tuloy ang pang-aabuso hanggang sa nagiging bahagi na ito ng kultura sa mga kulungan sa ating bansa, (Female detainees have no one to run to that’s why they choose to keep silent. That is why abuses continue until it becomes a culture in the country),” she added.
The PNP Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) reportedly charged Noceda for attempted rape, acts of lasciviousness, unjust vexation, and for violation of the Safe Spaces Act of 2019.
But while the decisive action of the PNP against Noceda is laudable, the lawmaker still insisted there is a need for concrete and effective mechanisms to address grievances of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and institutionalize investigative procedures to pursue the cases of abuse being reported by female detainees.
De Lima said she has been pushing for the passage of the Women in State Custody Act, Senate Bill No. 378, since 2017 in order to protect female PDLs from sexual and other abuses.
“It’s time that my colleagues in the Senate support this measure and investigate these VAW cases which may be piling up already and becoming a human rights crisis,” she said.
“Hindi dapat natin pinapalampas ang anumang pang-aabuso na ginagawa ng mga nasa kapangyarihan lalo na sa mga bulnerableng sektor, gaya ng kababaihan(We shouldn’t ignore any cases of abuse being done by those in authorities on vulnerable sectors especially women),” she said.