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Friday, July 26, 2024

PBBM: Assist ‘comfort women’ in filing claims

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered concerned government agencies to extend aid and assistance to the case of the “Malaya Lolas” – a group of victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial army during World War II.

The President made the statement following a report of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), saying the Philippines had failed to assist the Malaya Lolas in filing claims against Japan.

“Government agencies concerned are formulating a comprehensive response to the CEDAW committee and will submit this within the required period,” President Marcos said on Saturday.

MALAYANG LOLAS. File photo shows two comfort women with Teresita Ang See (middle), convenor of the Flowers for the Lolas Campaign, in a protest action in front of the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City in January. Danny Pata

“We commit to undertaking measures and finding ways to help them live better lives as an expression of our continued deep solidarity with them and of our utmost respect,” he added.

Mr. Marcos said his administration acknowledges the “grave atrocities endured by the brave Filipino women during wars of the 20th century.”

“(We) sincerely commiserate with them as they bear the long-term and irreversible physical and psychological effects of the war. We honor their indomitable spirit and dignity in taking this important cause forward through these years,” the President said.

“I wish to underscore that the administration upholds the primacy of human rights and values the well-being of all Filipino women and girls. We strongly uphold women’s rights and push for gender equality as inscribed in our national laws, our treaty obligations especially

under the CEDAW, and other international human rights instruments,” he added.

On March 8, the International Women’s Day, CEDAW issued its decision on the complaint filed by 24 members of Malaya Lolas.

“The Committee (CEDAW) requested that the Philippines provide the victims full reparation, including material compensation and an official apology for the continuing discrimination,” the UN said.

Malaya Lolas had “consistently raised their claims at the domestic level, requesting that the government of the Philippines espouse their claims and their right to reparations against the government of Japan” but claimed that their efforts, however, “were dismissed by the authorities.”

In 1956, Manila and Tokyo signed a reparation agreement, under which Japan would provide the country with services and goods valued at the equivalent of $550 million.

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