By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – Congress must pass legislation for the benefit of “comfort women” after the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called the Philippines’ attention for not providing reparation, social support and recognition commensurate to the harm suffered by victims of sexual slavery at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Friday he will talk to the leaders of Congress about the needed legislation.
“We have to continue doing that job as part of the international obligations that we have and that is history, something that is common, most known to us. We do not want justice to be too late kasi ilan na lang nabubuhay sa kanila kaya sana mahabol pa natin (because only a few of them are still alive and we want them to benefit from the law),” Remulla told reporters.
A study group, led by Undersecretary Raul Vasquez, will tackle the comprehensive policy for comfort women reparation.
“At least kung kaya pang habulin ‘yung tulong, ihabol natin (we will try to extend our help while there is time),” Remulla said. “Personally, I think money is a small sum to pay for a grievous injury suffered by a person. Money can never replace what happened to them.”
As to who will fund the financial assistance, Remulla said it’s a “very ticklish issue” that is best left on the diplomatic table.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) issued on March 8, the International Women’s Day, its decision on the complaint filed by the 24 members of Malaya Lolas, a non-profit organization that supports sexual slavery survivors.
“The Committee (CEDAW) requested that the Philippines provide the victims full reparation, including material compensation and an official apology for the continuing discrimination,” the UN said.
Malaya Lolas had “consistently raised their claims at the domestic level, requesting that the Government of the Philippines espouse their claims and their right to reparations against the Government of Japan” but their efforts, however, “were dismissed by the authorities.”
“Their last action (was) turned down by the Supreme Court in 2014,” the UN said, forcing the victims to bring their cases before the CEDAW in 2019.
The groups wants “to establish the responsibility of the State party to fulfil its commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in supporting the non-discrimination of women and girls on its territory,” according to the UN. (PNA)