NORTHERN Mindanao ranked eight in the number of rape cases recorded last year, records from the Philippine National Police (PNP) show.

The region’s 144 recorded rape incidents constitute the 3,159 total cases in the country, a figure 22 percent higher than the number recorded in 2008.

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The 2009 figures translate to an average of almost nine rape cases being committed every day, or one incident every two-and-a-half hours.

"The actual number of rape cases is of course much higher than those reported, possibly as many as 6,000, since many women and girls still opt not to complain to the authorities," said Cotabato Representative Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, reacting to the statistics.

The lady lawmaker cited a study showing that "half of rape victims would not file a complaint because of the stigma and the embarrassment of recalling their ordeal to the authorities."

Metro Manila had 466 rape incidents last year; Western Visayas, 429; Central Luzon, 316; Calabarzon, 312; Bicol, 293; Southern Mindanao, 203; Central Visayas, 160; and Mimaropa, 153.

Ilocos had 145 cases; Northern Mindanao, 144; Eastern Visayas, 119; Western Mindanao, 109; Cordillera, 93; Caraga, 78; Central Mindanao, 73; Cagayan Valley, 53; and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, 13.

To cope with the surge in rape and other sexual assaults on women and children, Mendoza sought:

* The establishment of one rape crisis center in every city and province, as mandated by the Rape Victims' Assistance and Protection Act;

* The creation of a desk for women and children in every barangay hall;

* A forceful campaign against drug and alcohol abuse, and all forms of pornography;

* The installation of a National Sex Offender violator Public Website patterned after that of the U.S., to enable the public to alert themselves about the possible presence of sex malefactors in their communities; and

* The setting up of fully trained anti-sex crimes units in every regional police office. (Sun.Star/Press Release)