DAVAO CITY – A 16-year-old mother insisted that she wanted an Army personnel thrown to jail for allegedly raping her last month in their village in Bukidnon.
Jessa (not her real name), has identified her alleged rapist as a Private First Class Benjie Blancada of the Army’s 84th Infantry Battalion.
She already filed a case against the soldier and appealed to the military to show Blancada to the public and make him accountable for his crimes.
“I am determined to push my case against Blancada. I hope that this will serve as a warning to other soldiers and police who perpetuate violence against women and children,” she said.
Her insistence to see the soldier jailed was also prompted by reports from other villagers that allegedly, she was not the only victim of Blancada.
“Nakabiktima na man pud daw na siyag lain. Unya madala ra daw sa kanang magbayad lang og kwarta. Mao tong ang lola sa akong bana, gi-anaan nila nga ‘nay, ayaw kabalaka naa may 1 milyon’ (They said that he had another victim but it was settled after paying money. That’s why they were encouraging my husband’s grandmother to settle because they say we will be paid with a million pesos),” she said.
But her husband insisted that even if they would be paid in billions, they would still choose justice for Jessa.
“I, too, want to get justice. I want to see Blancada behind bars,” Jessa said.
In a press conference Tuesday, Jessa recounted that she has seen Blancada in their community and has been befriending them, even playing with her son.
“Sige man na siyag hagwa sa akong bata. Magsige siyag tawag og bordagol. Mao to ana siya nga ipaduol ra gud diri. Mobalibad man ko nga dili sa kay naa pa koy paliton. Unya dayon nanghulam pa siyag planggana sa amoa,wala ko kabalo nga gipanid-an na diay ko kung wala akong bana. (He would play with my son and even calls him “bordagol” (chubby). He even calls us to bring my child to him but I would refuse saying I still need to buy something. He even borrowed our basin. I didn’t realize that he has been watching me when my husband is not around),” she said.
In the afternoon of November 17, while nursing her son, Jessa said that she was surprised to see that Blancada was already inside their house in Sitio Maluos, Barangay Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon .
“Gitabunan niya og unlan akong nawong. Di ko kaginhawa, ako siyang gitulak. Sige na kog kapa-kapa di man gyud ko kadaog sa iyaha kay bug-at man kaayo, gipatungan na man gyud ko niya. Mao to nga dili man ko kasukol, iyaha na jud kong gidut-an og ayo og unlan sa akong nawong, mao to naluya na ko. (He covered my face with a pillow. I cannot breathe so I tried to push him. I struggled but I was no match for his weight. He kept on covering my face with a pillow, then I wasn’t able to fight anymore),” Jessa said.
After raping her, he ran out of the house. But a neighbor saw him who suspected something was wrong, she said.
Jessa later heard Blancada laughing with his company.
“Pirti nilang katawa. Pagtan-aw nako nga wala na sila sa gawas, nangayo ko og tabang sa among silingan. (They were laughing out loud. After they were gone, that was when I asked helped from our neighbors),” Jessa said.
Jessa said that they already filed a case against Blancada last December 2. She added that she wants to inspire other women victims of VAW to stand up and fight.
In a press statement on November 29, the 10th Infantry Division Commander, Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año said that they “are not going to tolerate any wrong doing of our troops, once proven guilty, we will make sure that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.
“I have already ordered the concerned unit for speedy investigation of the said incident,” Año said.
Lieutenant Colonel Arnold L Bernardo, commander of 84th IB also assured the victim and her family that they will “fully cooperate with other investigating body and we encourage them to file the necessary charges against the soldier who is now restricted and confined in the headquarters.”
However, the victim disclosed that she was being encouraged by their sitio leader not to pursue the case and to agree on a settlement.
The women’s group Gabriela said that Violence Against Women (VAW) cases perpetrated by men in uniform are alarming.
“Soldiers and police are supposedly protectors of civilians, especially the most vulnerable women and children. But they have become the bold and shameless violators of rights,” said Mary Ann Sapar, Secretary-General of Gabriela Southern Mindanao.
Gabriela cited that there was also a case of rape against a minor last year by soldiers in Paluan, Oriental Mindoro. Sapar said that in 2012, a 36 year-old married woman from Barangay Suaon, Kapalong, Davao del Norte was allegedly raped by an Army sergeant.
“The case did not prosper because of the demolition job done by the military wherein they would say that the victim and the military man are in a relationship. The victim then did not pursue the case and chose to leave their community,” Sapar said.
Sapar said that they are hopeful that Jessa’s case will prosper.
The Philippine National Police noted that there is a 35 percent increase on rape cases in the country in the first 10 months this year with 7,306 cases compared to 4,737 cases in the same period last year.
The Davao City Police Office noted a 128.24 percent increase in rape cases this year with 218 cases, compared to last year’s 170 cases. (davaotoday.com)