LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Officials ring the alarm after rape cases here have escalated.
Police records reveal that from January to June this year, rape cases totaled 116, with Benguet logging in the highest at 28 cases, followed by Baguio with 21, Mountain Province with 20 cases, Ifugao with 19 and Apayao, Abra and Kalinga with 12 apiece.
Out of the 116 cases, Police Regional Office Cordillera information officer Davy Limmong said rape against children in Benguet reached 24 cases.
For the same period last year, there were a total of 109 cases, with Benguet still topping with 34, followed by Abra and Baguio each with 18, Mountain Province with 14, Kalinga with 10, Apayao with 7, and Ifugao with 6.
Out of the 109 cases, 16 were rape against children from Benguet alone.
Towns in the province are addressing the increase in crimes against women and children since the escalation started.
The Philippine National Police has strengthened the women's desk eyed to make officers more effective in dealing with victims flocking to the police desk.
For the Provincial Government, a summit on child welfare has been convened to address pressing issues on children in the province.
In 2013, the summit was the first of its kind in the province, set immediately after a surge on rape cases was reported by police months ago.
In the province capital, Councilors Roderick Awingan and Estrella Adeban, as well as Vice Mayor Romeo Salda wrote an ordinance for the establishment of a Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) desk under the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO).
In the ordinance, functions of the VAWC desk were detailed with assisting victims of child abuse and violence against women in securing protection orders and access necessary services set at the top priority.
The VAWC desk also aims to develop and lead advocacy in the establishment of Violence Against Women and Children Desk in all barangays in the municipality, as well as the development of the municipal child and gender-sensitive plan in addressing child and gender-based violence, including support services, capacity building and referral systems.
Responding to child and gender-based violence cases brought to the office of the Municipal Social Welfare is also highlighted, and coordination with referral of cases to government agencies non-government organizations, institutions, and other service providers will also be a mandate of the VAWC desk if the law is passed.
The VAWC desk will address forms of abuse committed against children and women, especially senior citizens, women with disabilities and other marginalized groups, and will be the lead in the advocacy to eliminate violence against women and children in the Valley. (With a report from Jessilyn L. Duran/ISU-Echague Intern)