Press Release
May 15, 2009

Cayetano commends Vanessa for her courage
but urges immediate review of VFA

Senator Pia S. Cayetano expressed support for, and commended, "Vanessa," the 22-year-old Filipina who has accused an American serviceman of raping her inside a hotel room in Makati, for her courage in making public a very personal and humiliating experience.

"My heart goes out to Vanessa and what she has been through. But I urge everyone to respect her privacy. Rape is so personal no one can begin to understand the pain and anguish the victim will go though by recounting her ordeal," said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice.

Cayetano explained that under Republic Act No. 8353, the case of rape can already be pursued without the consent of the victim.

The crime of rape was formerly classified as a crime against chastity under the Revised Penal Code. This was amended by Republic Act No. 8353 or "An Act Expanding the Definition Of The Crime Of Rape Reclassifying The Same As A Crime Against Persons, Amending For The Purpose Act No. 3815, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The Revised Penal Code, And For Other Purposes."

As a result of this reclassification, the procedural requirement of consent of the offended party, in this case, "Vanessa," is no longer needed because this is now a "public crime" unlike when it was still classified as a crime against chastity, explained Cayetano.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Vanessa's hesitancy in filing a case is influenced by her perception of the government's poor handling of the Subic rape case of "Nicole." I wonder if the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be more proactive in protecting our women this time around.

Cayetano also emphasized that the latest rape allegation gives more justification to push through with the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

"Aside from the serious legal and constitutional issues, we must look into the social consequences of the VFA. The Balikatan exercises covered by the VFA have been linked to numerous cases of abuses, including rape and proliferation of sex trade and trafficking of women. What does this say about our commitment to uphold women's rights and their human rights?"

Cayetano is one of the co-authors of Senate Resolution No.892, "A Resolution Expressing the Sense of The Senate that the President of the Philippines Should Re-visit the Provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Accordingly Exercise the Right to Terminate the VFA Considering that Supervening Events Have Rendered the Provisions of the VFA as Contrary to the 1987 Philippine Constitution."

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