Yap’s HB 8986 presses for halfway house for VAWC victims

Yap’s HB 8986 presses for halfway house for VAWC victims

Benguet Cong. Eric Go Yap talks with ACT CIS Partylist Rep. Erwin Tulfo during a hearing at the Lower House. (Contributed photo)    

Benguet Representative Eric Go Yap is pushing for the construction of a halfway house for victims of violence against women and children in the province.

Yap, in his proposed House Bill 8986, cited that violence against women and children continues, and based on the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) report, Benguet has the highest incidence of rape last year.

While there is a decline in rape cases in the first quarters of 2023 in the region, Yap said it is troubling that women victims are relatively younger. 

“There should be a safe haven for women and children who are victims of abuse and other crimes, hindi natin ma-imagine yung nararamdaman nila na nakatira pa din sa bahay kung saan inaabuso sila o sinasaktan. Yung bahay mo sana ang safest na lugar, but for them it’s not. Uuwi yung minor from school at papasok ng bahay, sobrang takot yung pakiramdam kasi pwede sya physically saktan or gahasain. Grabe,” Yap said.

The solon added while several government mechanisms are employed to address the issues of gender-based violence which includes physical, sexual, and psychological harm or suffering, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, there is a need to provide an establishment that will immediately accommodate and lend reintegration, protection, support, and treatment to a similar facility that provides temporary shelter and protective custody to women ages 18-59 years old who are victims of involuntary or forced prostitution, illegal recruitment, of armed conflicts and others.

“Over the past few years, hindi na natin mabilang yung mga lumapit sa atin, lalo yung mga minor na victims of rape by their own family – tatay, stepfather, lolo or family friend. Worse, hindi nila alam saan sila magsusumbong kasi natatakot sila. Takot sila na baka paalisin sila at walang matuluyan, tapos takot din sila kasi baka sila pa yung masama sa paningin ng ibang kamag-anak nila dahil nakakahiyang kumalat yung balita sa community,” Yap added.

Although Yap has been assisting countless victims of violence against women and children in the province, he said there is more that needs to be done aside from assisting them in their legal battles. 

“We’ve been assisting them sa mga legal battles nila, giving them lawyers and helping them start again through livelihood opportunities. Kaya lang we can only do so much, hindi lahat may chance na makatakbo sa atin for help. Kaya we need to establish a facility na alam nila na pwede nila puntahan for refuge. Which is why we filed HB 8986,” Yap explained. 

The Benguet lawmaker added the bill seeks to institutionalize similar facilities, which initially are building and administering halfway houses the victims of domestic abuse and rape across the country.

“While this measure is pending in Congress, nakipagusap na tayo sa DILG for an immediate establishment of a structure sa Itogon. I talked to Mayor Bernard also and nag-identify na din siya ng lupa kung saan itatayo. DILG responded positively and we are hoping that this will be constructed the soonest,” Yap closed. ### (PR)