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Puno not blaming the Barramedas

MANILA, Philippines - This is in response to the story titled “Fishing magnate denies link to Mafia-style murders,” which appeared in the Metro section of the Philippine STAR’s issue last June 14.

Contrary to what was implied in the story’s sub headline, Secretary Ronnie Puno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is not blaming the family of the late Ruby Rose Barrameda Jimenez for the horrible fate that had befallen her. In fact, the news report was correct in quoting Secretary Puno as having told a press conference in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur that the victim’s sister, Rochelle Barrameda, sought the DILG chief’s help — through a common friend — about a year and a half ago when the Barramedas were already becoming desperate over the seeming lack of progress in the case of her missing sister.

In response to that appeal, Secretary Puno directed the police to work double-time on the case, leading to the discovery of a witness who eventually revealed where the killers had hidden her corpse. The police have already filed the appropriate charges against the suspects who had been identified by the witness.

The secretary merely said during the June 12 press conference in Prosperidad that the murder could probably have been avoided had the alleged incidents of wife beating been reported to the police when these first happened way back. One of the programs that Secretary Puno put in the fast track following his appointment as DILG secretary in 2006 was the establishment of Women and Children Protection Desks in all regions plus WCPD units in all police stations, precisely to attend to cases pertaining to the abuse of women and children.

As envisioned by Secretary Puno, these units are being handled by female police personnel so victims would be more comfortable or at ease in reporting their complaints to the authorities. So far, 1,830 units have been put up all over the country, in the hope that the victims or their relatives, friends or neighbors, would be encouraged or persuaded to report such crimes to the Philippine National Police (PNP).We all know that these crimes, especially rape or domestic violence, are happening on a daily basis but many of these are not being reported to the authorities, mainly out of fear or shame on the part of the victims or their relatives or indifference on the part of their neighbors or friends who are aware of, but are keeping mum on, these incidents.

It is the hope of Secretary Puno and the rest of the DILG family that with the establishment of these WCPDs, the victims or their relatives, friends or neighbors would come out and report these crimes, so that the PNP could provide aid and comfort to the victims as well as put behind bars the perpetrators of these dastardly acts.

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Thank you very much. BRIAN RAYMUND YAMSUAN, Assistant Secretary, DILG

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