By KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY —A New People’s Army (NPA) unit and an underground women’s organization in separate statements condemned the 54th Infantry Battalion for condoning one of its soldier who raped a minor twice.
The Nona del Rosario Command of the New People’s Army in Ifugao said in a statement that Paul Tamang of the 54th IB first raped the 15-year-old victim in 2018. The army sexually assaulted her while she was alone doing the laundry at home.
In March 2019, Tamang returned saying that he wanted to talk about what happened and then raped her again. A few months later, two other soldiers from the 54th IBPA approached the family and offered them P70,000. They also informed them about the transfer of Tamang to a different unit following the incident.
Troops from the 54th IB, including Tamang, was in the victim’s village supposedly conducting a Community Support Program Operations (CSPO) when the abuse happened.
“The victim, her family and the entire community continue to seek justice for the violence and oppression they have experienced,” the statement said.
According to the NPA unit, there have been three reported rape cases perpetrated by soldiers of the 54th IB. These cases are on top of complaints of sexual harassment in various villages in Ifugao.
In a separate statement, Makibaka, the women’s revolutionary organization allied with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the 54th IBPA soldier for raping a minor twice at that.
Makibaka demanded that justice be served to the victim and for the pull out of the 54th IBPA from Ifugao.
In November 2014, the police arrested a member of the same army unit, Christopher Collado Baccay, for charges of charge for intentional abortion with rape. The victim filed the case before Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of Lagawe town in Ifugao. Authorities collared the rape suspect inside the 5th Infantry Division (ID) in Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.
The 54th IBPA is not the only army unit assigned in Ifugao with records of rape and sexual abuse.
In 2012, Capt. Danilo Lalin of the 86th IB, then stationed in Ifugao, abducted and raped a 16-year old girl from Benguet. Isabel (not her real name) went missing on February 17, 2012, and returned home four days after. She later disclosed to her sister that Lalin brought her to a military camp in Ifugao where the army official raped her.
The trauma from her ordeal on the hands of Lalin caused the victim to suffer from depression and selective amnesia.
Lalin claimed that Isabel, who was 16 at the time was his girlfriend. Military officials transferred the suspect to the 5th ID headquarters in Gamu, Isabela after the incident. #