Press Release
September 10, 2007


Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. today proposed the creation of an independent body to investigate and prosecute the suspects in the brutal rape-slay of Geraldine Palma, the seven-year old who was found dead last August 16 inside a traveling bag in the Manila breakwater.

Revilla refiled a pet bill of former Senate President pro-tempore Juan Flavier that seeks to create the Office of Tanodbata, an independent body which shall be powerful and aggressive enough to initiate investigation and pursue the prosecution, on its own, of any incidences of child abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

"The Palma case should be an eye-opener to the government that it still needs more effort to stop this kind of crime. We need a watchdog against child abuse," Revilla stressed.

According to the lawmaker, the Palma case and other similar cases should be handled by an investigative body that would serve as a guardian exclusively of children's right to ensure that justice will be served as soon as possible.

Revilla explained that existing public and private agencies may have proven to be effective in reporting child-related cases but they have not been as fully efficient in the prosecution of suspects.

"In addition, some complainants lose interest in pursuing the case due to financial reasons. Hence, the criminals go scot-free, remaining unrestrained to commit their crimes all over again," he lamented.

Citing figures from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Revilla said there were 7,606 reported child abuse cases last year but he believes the numbers are more than that because there are cases that were unreported.

Out of the DSWD 2006 data, there were 2,328 male victims and 5,278 female victims. There were 819 cases occurred in the National Capital Region (NCR) while Region 9 got to the top list with 1,426 cases.

Geraldine falls within the age bracket that has the most number of victims. Ages 6 to 12 got 2,262 reported cases with 1,439 female victims. It is followed by Ages 16 to 17 where 2,179 cases reported with 1,834 female victims.

"The Palma case is sensational, considering the shocking end of the victim and the discovery of the body. But I believe there are more unreported cases like this and the creation of independent investigative body would be an effective tool on encouraging witnesses of such cases to surface ," Revilla said.

Under Revilla's Senate Bill no. 881, the Office of the Tanodbata shall investigate, on complaint by any person or on its own, and initiate court action against any person, corporation or firm, for any and all commissions of child abuse. It shall have one special prosecutor and one investigator for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao .

The Office of the Tanodbata shall direct any government agency to render assistance and furnish information necessary for the welfare of Filipino children and shall ensure that legislation relating to the protection of children's right is observed.

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