PH notes UN findings; reparations made for WWII 'comfort women'

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

March 11, 2023, 7:46 am

MANILA – Malacañang on Friday refuted the claim of a United Nations (UN) panel that the Philippines has failed to provide reparations for Filipino women who suffered sexual abuse by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the Philippine government takes note of the findings published by the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), stressing that it recognizes the suffering of Filipina victims of "atrocious violations" during the war.

The PCO, however, pointed out that "some reparations have been made and the Supreme Court has adjudicated on the matter".

The PCO said the government will study the views of the UN women’s rights committee and submit a written response within six months, as provided for under the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW.

"The Government of the Philippines remains fully committed to women's rights pursuant to its international human rights obligations and national laws and jurisprudence," the PCO said.

The CEDAW issued on March 8, the International Women’s Day, its decision on the complaint filed by 24 members of Malaya Lolas, a non-profit organization that supports sexual slavery survivors, or known as comfort women.

“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.”

According to the UN, the group wanted “to establish the responsibility of the State party to fulfill its commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in supporting the non-discrimination of women and girls on its territory.”

During World War II, thousands of women across Asia, including the Philippines, became victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese military forces.

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 USD550 million.

While their number rapidly decreases, the victims continue to seek justice and urge Japan to resolve the comfort women issue. (PNA)