President Rodrigo Duterte says he is willing to raise the issue of Filipino comfort women with the Japanese government when he gets the chance. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY – The group of surviving sexual slaves during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines will be seeking an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte over the issue of Filipina “comfort women”.

Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina told Davao Today in a telephone interview Thursday, August 11 that they are planning to have a dialogue with Duterte.

“Maybe in the near future we are going to seek out his help about this issue. We planned that we will have a dialogue if the President will allow it so that we can explain why the Lolas refuse to die because justice has been denied to them,” Extremadura said.

“We hope that the President will understand that this is a very serious crime against humanity. And that the government should intervene and help the Lolas in their cries for justice,” she added.

Lila Pilipina has documented 174 comfort women across the country, however, Extremadura said 104 already died.

Based on their documentation all the comfort women residing in Davao City, General Santos City, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod have already passed away.

She said they also have recorded five “comfort women” in Cebu and one in Iloilo who is “very senile”.

Lila Pilipina has also recorded three cases of 11 year old girls who were made as comfort women during the World War II, the youngest in their records, said Extremadura.

“Almost all the Lolas have the same case but only in different situations and different places. Almost all their suffering is the same because in one day they were raped by 5-6 Japanese soldiers and they were still very young at that time so it is very hard for them,” she said.

She said the previous administration “completely ignored the plight of the Filipina comfort women.”

“I hope this time the President will have some ears to listen to us and support us,” she said.

Message to Japanese foreign minister

Extremadura also said that Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who is meeting with Pres. Duterte here on Thursday, August 11 should change Japan’s policy about the historical truth about the Filipino comfort women.

“As victim country, we hope that the foreign minister of Japan will put it into his agenda to change the policy about historical truth, about the justice for the comfort women because even if they deny, the fact remains that the Japanese imperial army, before and during the second world war has implemented, designed, conceptualized the Japanese military sexual slavery,” she said.

“We have the living testimony of victims and so we hope that Kishida, as foreign minister, should understand that we can never have peace with Japanese because of these unresolved war crimes,” Extremadura said.

The group will be holding a protest action in front of the Japanese Embassy in Pasay on Friday, August 12 to “express alarm over Japan’s rising militarism.”

“We are alarmed. The lolas are so worried that what happened to them will happen again in the next generation. They have been fighting for so long so that the world will be free from violence against women,” Extremadura said. (davaotoday.com)

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