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). It was GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas who 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. We have the identities of the victims, but we cannot disclose them to the public as this is a very sensitive issue.
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. That is why we 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.
We find the statements of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana worrisome, dismissing our account as fake news and even resorting to red-tagging. We condemn such response to our concerns, as he was quick to preclude any investigation into the claims of rape threats. 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?
We dare 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. With that, we hope the retired general can also come up with a more grounded assessment of the situation in Marawi, one that is not based on guesswork and imagination.
GWP has always stood in solidarity with the women and people of Mindanao in light of the crisis and the declaration of martial law and we shall continue to stand up for the women of Marawi who cannot speak out of fear. We are firm in our position that addressing poverty and lack of social services, instead of waging a full-blown militarist approach under martial law, is the solution to the problem of terrorism.
Our record shows that we have never wavered in our commitment to defend the abused and oppressed women in society. The military meanwhile has still to be held accountable for its tainted record of human rights violations against women and children. #