MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Education (DepEd) said it is "gathering information" on separate incidents of rape involving students in Malabon, Bulacan, and Iloilo.
The reported incidents involve the following:
"Through the legal office of the respective Schools Division Offices, DepEd is gathering further information to assess the necessary actions to ensure that justice is served and rehabilitation is enforced," DepEd said in a statement on Wednesday, March 29.
The department urged parents and guardians, as well as media and the community, to complement what teachers do to instill proper values and respect in children, especially since "the bigger percentage of their daily interactions and values formation occur outside school."
"These are young, pliant minds – eager to learn and absorb information, beliefs, values, perspectives, ideas. The burden of accountability and the necessity to ensure that they develop into upright and productive citizens, lie equally on the shoulders of the education system, the government, and the community," the statement said.
DepEd asked the community to be vigilant and proactive in "preventing and deterring incidents that result in the abuse, exploitation, and discrimination against children."
Citing Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, the department reiterated its commitment to protect children, and to provide them with "a safe and nurturing environment where the values of respect, gender-sensitivity, and responsibility for one's actions are learned, understood, and applied."
1-ANG EDUKASYON Representative Salvador Belaro Jr said these rape incidents require "swift action" from the police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
"The attackers who are 16 years of age or older can be held criminally liable if proven that they acted with discernment. The rape cases should be filed promptly," he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Belaro urged Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to order the local police to do "real investigative work" on the cases. He called on the DILG to suspend barangay chairmen for negligence, if necessary.
"Task barangay social workers to attend to the victims, their families and to the suspects' families. Determine if the parents and guardians of the suspects should also be held liable for the actions of their children," Belaro added. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.