03 May 2012
GABRIELA TO DFA:
COMPEL PANAMA GOV’T TO WAIVE DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY OF RAPIST
The women’s group GABRIELA sought a dialogue with the Department of Foreign Affairs today to ask for clarification regarding the flip-flopping stance of the department concerning the diplomatic immunity of a Panamanian national accused of raping 19-year-old “Pamela” on April 23, 2012.
In a letter handed to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis during the dialogue, the women’s group said that the DFA has in essence abetted in the Panamanian’s escape from justice with the certification they issued, reversing their previous statement, that the accused can invoke diplomatic immunity.
The letter, which was signed by Gabriela partylist Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus as well as GABRIELA Secretary General Lana Linaban and Deputy Secretary General Joms Salvador, read: “(We) are highly alarmed that said developments show that the Philippine government through the DFA has once again acted not in the best interest of our fellow Filipinos and instead yielded to the interest of foreigners who have committed a crime against our people.”
Simultaneous with the dialogue, members of GABRIELA held a protest action in front of the DFA compound to hold the department for the release of Erick Shcks, the Panamanian rapist. They demanded that the DFA oblige the government of Panama to waive diplomatic immunity granted to the accused. “The government should protect first and foremost its citizens rather than other nationals. They should show that rape is a serious criminal offense in the Philippines and therefore should not entitle the accused with immunity,” said Salvador.
GABRIELA vows to fulfil its responsibility to women-victims to ensure that they have fair access to justice. “We are together with Pamela in her quest for justice and in making the DFA correct its mistake in siding with the foreign national.”