Philippines Protestants to Arroyo: What’s so special about child rapist?

Jun. 19, 2007

What a harlot she has become!
She once was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her
but now murderers!
Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water.
Your rulers are tyrants, partners of thieves.
All are greedy for profit and chase after bribes.
They show no justice to the orphan,
the cause of the widow is never heard.
– Isaiah 1:21-23

Women and children in Philippine society have become the least of the leastno one to give them justice and no one to hear their cause. They might as well be orphans and widows!

This is now best exemplified by the recent commutation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos two life sentences to just a mere 16 years for raping an 11-year old girl in 1996.

This commutation comes in the heels of the official launching, led by the President herself, of the National Year for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in November of 2006, which embodies Presidential Proclamation No. 1137 declaring October 2006 to October 2007 as Child Abuse Prevention Year. In her speech at the launch, the President said that it was high time that concrete steps were taken to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to create a world ideal and suitable for them to grow and live to their fullest. She said that laws on the protection of women and children were already in place and it was just a matter of implementing these laws to ensure the protection of children against trafficking, abuse and neglect. She said that she would promise, not in words but in deeds, to ensure the security of our children and thereby the nations future.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines wishes to remind President Macapagal-Arroyo of her promises and proclamations. We wish to point out that her deed of commuting the two life sentences of rapist Jalosjos goes counter to her declarations of protecting children against abuse and neglect. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is for the aspiration of ensuring the welfare and security of all children, but the president must lead by example. We call her to task. We call her to repeal the commutation. Justice must be given the wronged child. The cause of abused children and women must be heard.

We also dare ask. What is so special about a convicted child rapist such as Jalosjos who gets favors from Malacanang? Why is it so easy for this dispensation to commute a criminals sentence for good conduct, health considerations and old age while the wrongly accused needlessly languish in jail. How does a true Christian and respected church worker like Pastor Berlin Guerrero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and other political prisoners remain illegally detained for trumped up charges while an abuser of children may go scot-free? Where is the justice in all these?

Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz Duremdes
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in the Philippines
879 EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City 1104 PHILIPPINES
Tel: (+632)929-3745 Fax: (+632)926-7076

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