De Lima presses Senate probe into PNP’s sex-for-freedom scheme

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought for a Senate investigation into the sex-for-freedom (or palit-puri) scheme within the Philippine National Police (PNP) following reported cases of sexual violence by the cops against relatives of detainees in exchange for suspect’s freedom.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 930 urging the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality to investigate the alleged sexual advances perpetrated by law enforces against women and children relatives of detainees.

In filing the measure, she cited the recent incident of rape involving a teenager who was taken advantage of by a police officer who promised for the freedom of her parents who were detained on drug charges.

“The alarming reports of women and children having suffered in the hands of state actors must be resolved speedily, for demanding sexual favors in exchange for one’s freedom is a gross manifestation of abuse of power that must not be tolerated by the government,” she said.

Police Officer 1 Eduardo Valencia of the Manila Police District Station 4 Drug Enforcement Unit was arrested for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl whose parents were apprehended in a drug sting in Sampaloc, Manila last Oct. 25.

Valencia reportedly offered to give the victim a ride home after she was cleared for questioning but they ended up driving to a hotel in Sta. Mesa, Manila where the alleged rape occurred on the morning of the following day.

While National Capital Region Police Office Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar confirmed that medical tests showed lacerations in the victim’s private parts, Valencia denied the allegations after his arrest at his home last Oct. 27.

According to the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), 56 policemen have been involved in 33 state-perpetrated cases of violence against women since Mr. Duterte assumed office.

About 12 of these cases of violence against women are drug-related where the victims were either drug suspects, relatives of drug suspects or were assaulted during drug-related operations.

De Lima, a staunch defender of women’s rights and gender equality, underscored the need for increased attention from the government about the police involvement in abuses against women, such as rape.

“In a seeming culture of impunity that breeds and emboldens criminals and misfits, the authorities must remain vigilant in safeguarding the vulnerable, particularly the women and children, from those who trample upon their rights,” she said.

The Senator from Bicol also expressed hopes that the Senate can help push legislative measures that ensure full protection, including legal remedies, for affected women and children who were victims of violence and abuses.

In 2016, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific has documented cases of abuses against women by the police, including the one who was married to a man arrested on trumped-up drug charges in Manila.

The said woman reportedly ended up as the policemen’s sex slave for three days because they could not come up with the money for his freedom.

Aware of the worsening abuses against women and children under the Duterte administration, De Lima has authored and co-authored several bills and resolutions advocating women’s rights.

Among these measures include Senate Bill No. 1438 which seeks to provide protection of women in state custody and Senate Resolution No. 670 calling for a Senate inquiry into the implementation of the Gender and Development plans and programs under the present administration.

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