Rape cases in Cordillera drop; cops worry about young victims
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — The number of rape cases in the Cordillera region had declined between the first and second quarters of this year but the ages of the youngest victims were “troubling,” the Philippine National Police in the region reported.
Records from the Cordillera Police Regional Office showed that a 4-year-old was among the 52 rape complaints that were investigated by the police from January to March. The rape cases dropped to 42 from April to June, but a 6-year-old was among that period’s victims.
The figures were disclosed during the meeting of the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), which was joined by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., on July 14.
The police data did not reveal the circumstances of the children who suffered this brutality.
According to the police’s records, the youngest sexual offender was 15 years old, and most suspects blamed for the 94 rape cases since the start of this year were “acquaintances” of the victims.
The suspect profiles that were outlined at the RPOC meeting also revealed that three suspects were their victims’ schoolmates, three of the alleged aggressors were stepfathers, two were the victims’ brothers-in-law, five involved the victims’ cousins and two were the victims’ nephews.
At least 10 of the suspects indicated they were intoxicated at the time of their alleged assaults.
The results of the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), which was presented during a July 11 press briefing by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) here, indicated that the percentage of Cordillera women ages 15 to 49 who suffered sexual violence shot up to 4.4 percent last year, from 2 percent in 2017.
The PSA said the increase took place at a time when everyone’s movement was restricted because of quarantines imposed in the first years of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2013, 7.3 percent of Cordillera women experienced various levels of sexual assault. In 2008, the percentage was 5.8.
But physical violence against highland women dropped to 8.3 percent in 2022, from 10.5 percent in 2017, a peak high of 22.1 percent in 2013 and 16.4 percent in 2008.
The Cordillera comprises the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province, and the highly urbanized Baguio City, its regional center. The region has a population of 1,797,660 (as of 2020 census), with women comprising 48.8 percent of the population, according to data from the PSA.
Both the NDHS, which was undertaken by the PSA, and the Cordillera police report at the RPOC meeting observed that more upland women were aware of these risks and had sought help when they were victimized.
The health demographic results showed 46 percent of Cordillera women “sought help to stop the violence,” while 38 percent kept the attacks to themselves and never alerted anyone, according to Betina Joy Bermillo, PSA Cordillera senior statistical specialist, who presented parts of the survey in the June 29 rollout.
According to the NDHS, the remaining 16 percent “never sought help but told someone.”
The RPOC was told that 47 of the rape suspects were still at large, but 29 were undergoing trial.
Police said six of the victims “refused” to file cases against their attackers.
Mountain Province presented the highest drop in rape cases, from six in the first quarter to only two in the second quarter.
The highest number of rape complaints was recorded in vegetable-producing Benguet province (12 cases in the first quarter, followed by another 12 in the second quarter).
In Baguio City, the local police attended to 10 rape complaints from January to March, and seven more cases from April to June.
Ifugao recorded 11 cases from January to June, which was the same number of rape complaints in Abra. Apayao recorded 10 rape cases for the first semester, while 13 cases were reported in Kalinga.