Press Release
April 24, 2009

Press statement of Sen. Loren Legarda

On CA acquitting Smith

The reversal by the Court of Appeals (CA) of the rape conviction of American Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was controversial, even without considering perceptions, rightly or wrongly, that "the US may have had a hand on how events had played out."

First off, the court chose not to believe Nicole's statement that she never consented to having sex with Smith and that she, despite being intoxicated, resisted. Instead, the CA painted its own version of the incident about an allegedly scorned and vengeful woman. The court, likewise, imposed its own interpretation on what was on the mind of Nicole and her physical condition at the time of what the CA claimed to be a mere "romantic episode."

What's so romantic about a woman regaining consciousness to find a man forcing himself on her? It is immaterial if a drinking binge caused the woman to pass out - that is not an excuse for anyone to take advantage of her.

Most women would also take exception to the court's assertion that Nicole's being "demure" was only a posturing, on its claim that no demure probinsyana (country-lass)would go on a trip from Zamboanga all the way to Subic to "enjoy" some time with friends, even with ones she may have only known for three months. Since when did a trip from Zamboanga to Subic become synonymous with trolling for sex, or of "enjoyment" automatically resulting from a sexual congress?

This unfortunate line of thinking by the CA is no different from the admonition to fashion-conscious women "not to dress like they wanted to be leered upon by men or, worse, get raped." This decision is a setback to the promotion and protection of the rights of women against all forms of violence and exploitation.

On RP call for end to racism on migrants

The appeal made by the Philippines for the greater protection of the rights of migrants at the World Conference on Racism in Geneva is most welcome. In fact, it is long-overdue considering that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are known to grapple with the problem of racism not only from the nationals of their host countries but also from their fellow migrant workers.

But the Philippines has to go further than just issuing an appeal. Our government must protect overseas Filipinos against racist practices by helping weed out exploitative employers and guiding them away from labor markets that offer little protection to migrants.

But there's a form of racism that is happening right in our country and it does not even involve foreigners looking down on Filipinos. I am referring to "regionalism" in the context of the people of the south, especially of Mindanao, being marginalized in their own country in budgetary allocation, infrastructure development, provision of livelihood opportunities, as well as the delivery of basic government services.

On ILO warning of an increase in child laborers

The International Labor Organization (ILO) warned that more Filipino children may be forced to leave school because of lack of funds for education and also to help eke out a living for their families in the face of the global economic slowdown.

This concern by the ILO need not materialize if only the public school system in the country is able to absorb all Filipino children who want to study, but cannot because of lack of money. Likewise, there would be hardly any need for children to find work if government is able to generate livelihood opportunities for the adults in their families.

Child laborers should be protected from exploitation and from working conditions that put them in peril. The government must be vigilant in ensuring that the provisions of the Labor Code on the employment of children are strictly followed.

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