Freeman Region

Rape case vs. government doctor downgraded to child abuse: CHR commits help for 13-year-old victim

Miriam Garcia Desacada - The Freeman

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines  — The Commission on Human Rights and other human rights advocate group here are now closely monitoring the case against a government physician, after the City Prosecutor’s Office downgraded the non-bailable crime of rape into a bailable charge of child abuse.

CHR Commissioner Chito Gascon said the downgrading of the charge was contrary to the evidences presented by the 13-year-old victim against a 40-year-old physician formerly connected with the government-owned Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center.

Gascon said the CHR should see to it that the Department of Justice will look into this case of rape on a child, especially now that the Regional Trial Court had decided to remand the records of the case to the prosecution for the possible filing of amended information, based on the submitted evidences from the victim.

“Isa sa isinusulong namin is the right of a child, the best interest of child. We assure the family of the victim that the CHR will monitor the case very closely, and coordinate with the Prosecutions Service, and the prosecutions against the perpetrator will continue. We guarantee that the rights of the child will be taken care of, and that proper charges will be filed,” Gascon said.

Gascon however clarified that the CHR will not intervene in the role of the prosecution, but will make sure the rule of law be upheld based on the evidences submitted by the victim. He said the victim’s family had sought CHR assistance after they got frustrated over the downgrading of the charge to a bailable offense.

The case started last September 4 when the National Bureau of Investigation filed a criminal charge against the physician for allegedly raping the first-year high school student, after a month-long friendship on Facebook.

In his counter-affidavit, the physician vehemently denied the accusation, insisting he was innocent of the crime, but Investigating Prosecutor Georgina Perez found probable cause to indict him of the crime of rape, without bail, under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code.

However, City Prosecutor Ruperto Golong Jr.’s information dated last February 12, said the accused violated only Section 5 (b) of Republic Act 7610 (the law on special protection of children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination). It also said that the girl was only a victim of acts of lasciviousness, and that she was already 13 years old when victimized, thus the case was bailable.

RTC-branch 7 Judge Yolanda Dagandan, in turn, issued an order last February 22, remanding the entire records of the case to the City Prosecutor’s Office, saying that the charge against the accused was not proper. She said the provisions cited by the prosecution were only applicable if the victim was “exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse.”

Dagandan further said the victim was already 13 years old and clearly does not fall under the provisions of Section 5 (b) of the said law,

Golong, when asked for his comment on the judge’s order, told The Freeman his office is now conducting a re-evaluation of the case, within 15 days. “Please limit our discussion on the merit of the case,” he said.

Lawyer Gilbert Balderama, the victim’s legal counsel, said he already filed a petition for review of the case before the DOJ, and had communicated with the CHR for the protection of the rights of the victim.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health-Region 8, after the filing of the criminal charge against the accused last year, had refused to renew the contract of the latter as resident physician of EVRMC. (FREEMAN)

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