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Conviction Rate for Child Abusers Dismisal

February 1, 1999 · 

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Published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer
(February 1999)

DAVAO CITY – Only few of those accused of child abuse and sex exploitation get convicted even as the reporting of these cases has improved the past years, children’s rights advocates here said.

Liza Degoria, head of the city government-funded Balay Dangupan. A center for abused and sexually-exploited children, said of the 175 cases of rape, incest and acts of lasciviousness that were filed in court from 1996 t last year, only 16 had convictions.

Degoria said of the 16 cases, 10 convicts were meted out of deathenalty, four were sentenced to life imprisonment, one was given a 16-year jail term while another was placed under probation.

The case of the 10 death convicts and the four “life-termers” were decided in 1997 and 1998. Last year, there were only two convictions.

Lawyer Santos Torreña, city legal officer here, said child sex-exploitation cases often get dismissed because of inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony.

“Guilt should be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Inconsistencies (the) court testimony of the victims often lead to (the) acquittal (of the accused),” Torreña said.

He said the problem begins in the reporting of the case to the police, as the victim’s affidavit-complaint and testimony in court often do not match with the police report.

He said in some police reports the prepertrators were reffered to as “unidentified persons” while the date of the crime contradicts thatin the victim’s affidavit complaints.

“I think we must start some reforms in the process of writing of the police blotter,” he said.

Insp. Royina Vilela, chief of the city police Children and Welfare Desk, admitted that some police blotters donot have correct details of cases.

She said because children lack emotional, mental and physical maturity, the victims get confused in detailing their cases.

Degoria said during trials, the childrenbecome inconsistent in their testimony because eof the coutroom’s “opresive atmosphere.”

She said defense lawyer often portray the victims as persons with questionable background in a bid to demolish the case against their clients.

Such a court grilling, she said, is very traumatic for children.

She said there should be special courts for the children, where judges and lawyers go down to the level of the children instead of harassing them.

Jowel F. Canuday,
PDI Mindanao Bureau

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