Baguio City – The 2017 Program Review and 2018-2020 Strategic Planning for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) where the RCAT-CP-VAWC CAR member agencies reviewed their accomplishment for 2017. The participants discussed and identified the gaps, challenges and recommendations to further improve the inter-agency collaboration to eradicate human trafficking, violence against women and their children and child pornography.

One of our speakers, a human rights lawyer and activist, a fellow of the Open Society Justice Initiative, Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Cheryl “Chyt” L. Daytec Yañgot has touched the hearts of the participants with her story on the absence of the VAWC law. With ASEC Chyt’s permission, I would like to share her story. I hope this could enlighten women who are suffering from domestic abuses. The only thing that is left to be done is how to spread it for everyone to know.

DOJ Asec Chyt Daytec-Yangot in her words…When I was Director of the now-defunct Cordillera Executive Board, its office was on Kisad Road, Baguio City. It had a good view of the sidewalk separating the road from Burnham Park. I was then in my early 20s. One day, I heard a scream of distress. I looked out the window and saw a white male hitting a woman while they were walking on the sidewalk. I summoned our office staff Daisy Lee, Zenaida Lee Prangan, John Sagmayao, and Mng Yolly. We rushed out of the office and followed the couple. I was heavily pregnant but adrenaline rush somehow made me capable of running after the couple while shouting for the man to stop. He alternated between cursing us and hitting the woman. She was wailing in pain. I told John to call the police.

Our chase ended in Palma-Urbano which is about 500 meters from our office. The couple entered a house. The screaming did not stop. Outside, we were pleading for the violence to stop. John arrived with two policemen. “Policemen are here,” we shouted while knocking on the couple’s door. The police stood on the sidelines. I asked them to barge inside the house and castigated them for just folding their arms.

“We are sorry, Ma’am. We cannot enter their dwelling because we have no warrant. We might lose our jobs.” “A crime is being committed. That man might kill her. Stop him,” we pleaded. And then the woman shouted from inside the house. “Huwag kayong makialam! Problemang mag-asawa ito! Umalis kayo! Lalo niya akong sinasaktan dahil sa pakikialam nyo! (Do not interfere! This is a married couple’s private problem! Leave us alone! You are making things worse!)”

Our staff and I sadly looked at one another. I wept. The police, looking apologetic, left. We walked back to the Office in silence. I was very drained, very exhausted, very disappointed. I was also very angry – at the wife batterer, the seemingly non-chalant policemen who cared more for their tenure, the wife who virtually stood by her husband even as he was battering her, myself for being meddlesome. But mostly, I was very sad for the woman. To protect your own oppressor.

This was way before 2004 when violence against women and their children (VAWC) was criminalized under Republic Act 9262. I remembered everything when this week, I found myself in the vicinity of my old office. I spoke in the adjacent City Travel Hotel where we held a planning seminar on human trafficking, online sexual exploitation of children, and -yes!-, VAWC! As representative of the national Interagency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC) returning to the scene of a VAW crime that was not yet a VAW crime, I said to open my talk: “There is divine intervention when the right topic is thrown to the right person at the right place.” VAW is no longer nameless. It is no longer faceless. But despite the legal leap, it still happens. Everywhere. Like a woman’s work, the fight against VAW does not end. Not while we have a patriarchal culture.

The Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Child Pornography and VAWC (RIACAT-CP-VAWC) is a convergence of three (3) inter-agency councils namely the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) and the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC).

The IACAT was created under Section 20 of Republic Act No. 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), composed of the Secretaries of the Department of Justice and Social Welfare and Development as chair and co-chair, respectively, and the heads of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) and three representatives from non-government organizations as members. The IACAT serves as the coordinating and monitoring mechanism on all anti-human trafficking efforts of the government. It is also tasked to formulate comprehensive and integrated programs as well as harmonize all government initiatives to address the issues of trafficking in persons (TIP).

The IACACP was created in 2010 as the body that is primarily tasked to coordinate, monitor, and oversee the implementation of the Anti-Child Pornography law of 2009 or Republic Act 9775. It’s overall goal is to eradicate child pornography and is composed of Composed of 12 line agency members and 3 non-government organizations and is chaired by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Vice-chaired by Department of Justice (DOJ).The member agencies are DOLE, DOST, PNP, DICT, CHR, NTC, CWC, PCTC, OMB, NBI, DILG, PIA, TAF, SFI, IJM and UNICEF.

The IACVAWC was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) to ensure the effective implementation of the law. There are twelve (12) agencies namely DSWD, DILG, CSC, CHR, PCW, DOJ, DOH, DepEd, DOLE, PNP, CWC and NBI specifically tasked to ensure the effective implementation of the law, formulate programs and projects to eliminate VAW based on their respective mandates. /Patrick T Rillorta