“Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.” ~ American singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain
The girl was fifteen.
On the night the police took her parents into custody for possession of illegal drugs, she found her young self in the middle of a dilemma: to lose her parents or see them freed in exchange for sex with a police officer.
The rookie cop, PO1 Edgardo Valencia, according to the parents, had offered the proposal, and later brought their daughter to a motel as the couple were carted away by other officers to the Manila Police District.
One cannot even begin to imagine what went on in the mind of this girl as she was accosted by PO1 Valencia into a motel. As he ripped not only her clothes but her dignity. As he forced the weight of his lust into her body and mind, therefore her memory of a ruined youth.
To rape the body is to rape the mind. Not only will she now suffer the pain and indignity that go with sexual violence, she is now forced by her rapist to go on with life bearing the disgrace of being a “child bribe”.
We must understand that rape has nothing at all to do with sex. Rape is a cocktail of humiliation, defamation and degradation forced into the throat of those who suffer its shame. It is torture, plain and simple.
That it came from one whom society trusts with its safety is nauseating enough as it is. That it was foisted as a means of extortion turns the crime to a source of ignominy. Worse, as a grave indictment against the police force who, according to the rapist himself, had raised the crime of rape to the level of culture and mores within the uniformed ranks.
This incident stands at the tail end of a long line of earlier accusations of rape against officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Reports are many. In March, three rookie cops from Bulacan were charged with molesting and raping a pregnant woman in the presence of her child. In the same report, it was alleged that four PNP officers were accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl in the guise of frisking her [Recuenco, A. (2018, March 15). PNP assures public it won’t condone personnel wrongdoings. Retrieved from https://news.mb.com.ph]
In Olongapo City, a few months prior, six officers were accused of rape and maltreatment by a 30-year-old drug suspect. Based on the rape survivor’s allegations, the police officers watched as she was forced to dance naked and have sex with another policeman [Macatuno A. (2017 Oct. 18). Six Olongapo cops accused of raping detainee. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net]
As early as 2001, Amnesty International (AI) had been warning us about this clear and present threat to female suspects under the custody of law enforcers.
In AI’s News Service Nr. 37, the organization stated, “Too often, police officers and prison guards, abuse their power to rape and sexually abuse women in their custody. With the intent to humiliate, punish, or for their own sexual gratification, the perpetrators often get away with torture.”
The organization also said that fear of reprisals, including intrusive media practices in reporting as well as lack of gender sensitivity in Philippine courts, contribute to the withdrawal of complaints.
“In 1999 a male judge acquitted a policeman of raping a 13-year-old girl in Davao City. The judge reportedly called the girl ‘a woman in a minor child’s body, old in the ways of the world beyond her years… it is possible she concocted this lurid tale of lust and rape’”
(2001 March 3). Philippines: Rape and Sexual abuse in police custody. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org
Thirteen years later, in 2014, AI observed that the culture of impunity within the Philippine police forced has changed but little, if at all:
“A pervasive culture of impunity is allowing torture by police to go unchecked in the Philippines, Amnesty International’s latest report, ‘Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines,’ revealed today as it launched a major new campaign to stop torture in the country. Despite the country’s ratification of the two key international anti-torture treaties, methods such as electrocution, mock executions, waterboarding, asphyxiating with plastic bags, beatings and rape continue to be employed by officers who torture for extortion and to extract confessions.”
The U.S. State Department 2016 Human Rights Report said: “There continued to be reports of rape and sexual abuse of women in police or protective custody. Women from marginalized groups, such as suspected prostitutes, drug users, and indigent individuals arrested for minor crimes, were more likely to be victims of sexual violence” (2017 March 3). Philippines 2016 Human Rights Report. Retrieved from https://www.state.gov
What is more disturbing is the fact that the crime inflicted on the aforementioned 15-year-old child may not even qualify as rape, or in more technical terms, statutory rape.
Philippine laws define statutory rape as sexual violence inflicted on anyone lower than 12 years old. The age of 12, apparently, is the country’s age of consent.
Republic Act 8353 (The Anti-Rape Law of 1997) reclassified the offense of rape as a crime against persons “under Title Eight of Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, there shall be incorporated into Title Eight of the same Code a new chapter to be known as Chapter Three on Rape, to read as follows:
“d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.”
A professional lawyer and close acquaintance to this writer said, “By implication, this means that statutory rape only applies if the victim is below 12. If 12 or above, the other provisions apply meaning lack of consent must be proven for it to qualify as rape.”
If I am not mistaken, for lack of consent to be proven, the burden of proof must lie on the shoulders of the victim and not the rapist. This puts further undue burden on the 15-year-old survivor of sexual violence.
Based on the law, this expanded definition has been approved as far back as the Tenth Congress in Sept. 30, 1997. I could be wrong, but from where I’m writing this piece, the law on the age of consent hasn’t changed since (1997Sept. 30). The anti-rape law of 1997. Retrived from https://www.lawphil.net
If PO1 Valencia’s claim proves true, and by all evidence it must be true, that rape is practiced regularly by some police officers as a form of extortion, then the PNP has a grave problem in their hands, one that could leave the institution in ruins.
Speaking of “evidence,” in the same week as the rape of the 15-year-old girl by PO1 Valencia, the infamous oral sex scandal against three upper classmen at the Philippine National Police Academy hit the front pages of national dailies (2018 Oct. 18). 3 cadets face charges for ‘oral sex’ scandal at PH police academy. Retrieved from https://www.manilatimes.net
This begs the question: what in hell is our police academy teaching our young officers?
To be guilty of rape is not a public relations crisis, rather it is a catastrophe of character. And the PNP should know this. Hence, there is no use sweeping it under the rug. It is not enough to suspend erring cops or reassign them elsewhere as a form of punishment.
The PNP must hold the guilty officers accountable using the full force of the law. To do otherwise, out of a sick sense of loyalty to one other, is not only a disservice to the police profession, it is to curse it. G