Baguio City - Unlike in the Lenten story where Pontius Pilate literally and figuratively washed his hands in the prosecution ofof Nazarene, people in high places in teh Philippines want to wash their hands clean on the double-rape case involving a military commander.
Everyone seems to disclaim any connection with the alleged perpetrator of the double rape victimizing two students of a barangay high school in the mineral-rich Mankayan town in Benguet.
When local news outfits drum-bet the plight of the two minors enticed at having simultaneous intimate relationships with the military commander, they named the alleged perpetrator in a manner they are obliged and are allowed to do.
Right when the iron was hot, so to say, the military reportedly said that Captain Danilo Lalin, then of the Highlander 86 of the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, is no longer the commanding officer (CO) of the said military group. He has been relieved and has been deployed in Tinoc, Ifugao. It further claims that at the time he committed such a heinous crime against two girls, now 16, there was no military operation in Mankayan, therefore, claiming no responsibility over the crime that Lalin committed, and that the AFP could not detain him because it is yet to receive a formal complaint.
Similarly, Goldfields Mining Company, the proponent for a mining operation that will eventually continue to get minerals from the Far South East (FSE) project of Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) issued a statement saying it has nothing to do with the suspected rapist and that it coordinated with the local Rural Health Unit (RHU) for its medical missions where Lalin was seen speaking and helping facilitate the missions.
On the account that Lalin received the same training the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) integrees got, the armed group, which broke away from the New People's Army (NPA) in the 80's said he is not a “true-blue” CPLA, although it reportedly claimed that Lalin was among 15 integrees from Abra.
The disclaimers pose more questions than answers that eventually lead to the resolution of the heinous crime.
The first set of questions involves military discipline and how it conducts itself in front of the people it is supposed to be serving with utmost respect. Does it absolve a soldier of a crime, if he did it “not in the line of duty,” in this case, no military operation in the area was being conducted when Lalin allegedly raped the girls? What makes a soldier a civilian? That the military leadership is claiming no responsibility over the crime because Lalin did it as an individual is not easy to digest.
CPLA divulged that Lalin is from Abra, not Cagayan as he has claimed. He is not Vince Valdez or any other person. This leads to the question whether or not the military has the license to use a fictitious name in front of the people. The limited knowledge in law tells us that the use of a fictitious name is punishable under the Penal Code. This is beside the point, however, because whether he is Vince or Danilo, from Cagayan or from Abra or from Mars, Jupiter or Venus, Lalin has inflicted pain on the Cordillera community, with the rape of the girls and that he should be held accountable. His superiors in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) must similarly hold the responsibility to bring Lalin to justice.
How long does it take the police or other government entities to act on reports of rape? Is it not an urgent case that deserves an immediate action? How long does it take to arrest and detain an alleged perpetrator?
How many soldiers have gone unpunished abusing girls, and probably boys, in the guise of pursuing a serious courtship, because the authorities seem not to care? How many more girls (and boys) face a bleak future from their painful experience with our own soldiers?
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) has documented many cases of community values being ruined when soldiers encamp in the villages. The national human rights alliance Karapatan also attest to similar cases in other regions, especially in indigenous peoples' villages, which are usually mineral-rich or are regarded by the government as NPA-infested.
How, in the name of pursuing the rebels, if not guarding the national interest, deep can soldiers inflict so much pain on the young citizens, and destroy the peace?
The president was right when he told the graduating class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in any war, the force that gets the people's support wins. # Lyn V. Ramo