Never too late for women victims

Press Release

22 June 2005

A group of women staged a picket in front of the Supreme Court today in support to the filing of a disbarment complaint for Atty. Rodrigo A. Reyna. The basis of the complaint is a series of questionable conduct by said lawyer, as well as his involvement in Iris Alberto’s rape and kidnapping case. Reyna is representing Iris’ alleged perpetrators, Arturo S. Calianga and son, Gil Calianga, all are believed to be priests of the Mormon Church in the Philippines (Church of Latter Day Saints).

“I have a moral responsibility to file this (disbarment complaint), as the legal counsel of Iris, a survivor of kidnapping, forcible abduction, multiple rape and sexual slavery. Iris is just one of the many women who have undergone grave abuses and violence. This can be a landmark case.” said Atty. Evalyn Ursua in an interview.

The disbarment complaint was filed earlier today at the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and a supplemental petition to Alberto’s three pending cases at the Depatment of Justice (DOJ).

 “ We can introduce through this complaint new evidence for the pending cases filed at the DOJ. Hopefully, this time Raul Gonzales shall find a basis for him to re-file the case.” Ursua said.

Ursua referred the case to Women Working Together to Stop Violence Against Women (WWTSVAW), a group of women organizations active in the Anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) work.

“We are asking the media for support. We cannot help women who experience abuses in the home and elsewhere if we do things quietly. We also demand due diligence from the state and immediate action regarding the case. The government is accountable in national and international arenas for its failure to prevent VAW.” added Jessica Soto, Executive Director of Amnesty International Pilipinas and convenor of WWTSVAW.

The state must protect women from VAW and punish perpetrators coming from all sectors of the society, even the church. The experiences or threat of violence affects the lives of women everywhere, cutting across boundaries of wealth, race and culture. But it is never too late for women victim-survivors of VAW for healing and justice.