MANILA, Philippines – Partylist lawmakers want reports of women being threatened with rape by the military if they don’t leave Marawi City, which is wracked by armed conflict, investigated.
“I have personally heard the stories of women who sought refuge in evacuation centers in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur after government troops threatened to rape them, as encouraged by no less than President Duterte in his public remarks,” Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said.
“These are alarming accounts, which prove that the martial law and the President’s rape remarks have actually emboldened the military to dangle rape threats against women in Marawi City. We fear that there are actual victims of rape and we encourage them to speak out and seek justice,” she added.
The entire island of Mindanao has been under martial law for a month now, since Duterte’s declaration on May 23 following an attack by the Maute group in Marawi City. Thousands of families have evacuated to makeshift centers outside the city following the fighting.
Brosas visited the evacuation centers as a member of the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission conducted last June 14-15. The group was denied entry to Marawi City by the military.
“On top of its rights violations with the nonstop aerial bombardment of Marawi, the military is using rape threats as tool of war, coercion and harassment against women. Any sign of safety is elusive for the women particularly in Marawi City with armed men still on the loose and with soldiers eager to rape them,” she said.
Brosas, together with partylist Reps. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, Antonio Tinio and France Castro of ACT Teachers, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis and Sarah Elago of Kabataan earlier filed House Resolution No. 1085 seeking an inquiry by the House committee on human rights on the plight of displaced civilians in Marawi City and to look into the alleged rights violations committed by the military.
Brosas was also among the petitioners urging the Supreme Court to nullify Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.
The resolution sought to look into alleged “abuses and excesses of the military” under the state of martial law.