The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) strongly condemns the unrelated cases of rape that occurred on April 2023, all of which targeted children ten years old or younger.
The first case happened on 07 April 2023 in Barangay Cabuco, Trece Martires, Cavite, where a seven-year-old girl was found injured on a riverbank. Though active bystanders chased off the then-unknown suspect and rushed the victim to a hospital, she was unfortunately declared dead on arrival.
Later investigation and witness accounts identified the suspect as the victim’s godfather who was seen under the heavy influence of alcohol on the same morning of the incident.
The second case occurred on 09 April 2023 in Davao City, where the lifeless body of a 10-year-old girl was discovered near a banana grove. Two days earlier, the victim’s grandmother asked the cohabiting partner of one of their relatives to babysit the girl, but found the child missing when she returned.
This cohabiting partner soon surrendered himself to the police and confessed to sexually abusing the victim and leaving behind her corpse.
The third case is the rape of a three-year-old girl by her grandfather in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on 9 April 2023. The crime occurred inside their house as the victim’s mother was away selling candles for Easter Sunday.
Police investigation revealed that this was not the first time that the suspect had abused his granddaughter, and that he had been previously accused of sexually assaulting a pregnant woman.
The final and most recent incident occurred on 11 April 2023 in Mabalacat, Pampanga, where a couple was arrested for the rape and online sex-trafficking of their six-year-old child. Local authorities successfully tracked the suspects’ location after their client was arrested by foreign counterparts in Australia.
Upon inspecting their gadgets, authorities discovered that the couple had been abusing their child for almost a year, and had committed the same offense against other children who are yet to be identified.
CHR is gravely alarmed by this spate of sexual assault committed against very young girls. CHR deplores all acts of gender-based violence, especially when it involves vulnerable children whose perpetrators are family members and acquaintances exploiting the victims’ trust. These are gross violations against Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and several international human rights instruments, primarily the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Commission stresses that nothing can justify rape and any form of sexual abuse against children. Regardless of motive and substance or alcohol influence, a person should be held fully liable for harming and abusing another human being.
As the country’s Ombud for Children tasked to take necessary actions in criminal cases involving child victims of rights violations , CHR has mobilized its regional offices to conduct independent investigations of the aforementioned cases and seek ways to extend support to authorities and the victims’ families.
Additionally, CHR recognises the exemplary service of the respective law enforcers whose swift response led to the immediate arrest of these perpetrators. Equally, CHR lauds the government agencies that provided financial, social, and psychological assistance to the victims’ families.
To prevent sexual abuse and violence towards children, CHR emphasizes that protecting children is a whole-of-society responsibility. Families and communities must be vigilant, educated, and aware of signs of sexual abuse to complement government and civil society efforts in promoting and protecting children’s rights. ###