By: Alex P. Vidal
“I think that the enormous emphasis on violence and sex, and in particular violent sex, may not make rapists of us all, but it predisposes us to accept a kind of world in which these things happen.” –Alexander Walker
I KNOW of at least four Iloilo mayors accused of committing rape when I was covering the Iloilo Capitol beat in the early ’90s.
One of them, a former ex-convict from the fifth district even ran and lost for governor. His victim, a minor, became a lawyer.
Another one, a gambling lord in the second district and cockfighting aficionado was abandoned by his wife not for being a gambler, but for allegedly “molesting” his own niece.
The third one was from a coastal town famous for certain seafood in the fourth district. Of the four, this third “rapist” from the coastal town, who finished only in the elementary level and was always carrying a gun, was the worst: he allegedly raped his wife’s sister, who eventually “consented” to become his lover.
To minimize the scandal, they (the mayor, his wife, and the wife’s sister) lived in the same compound as a normal family. Other members of the household pretended they knew nothing about the quirky situation.
The fourth was also from the second district.
His case was not a secret because the alleged rape happened prior to his reelection bid.
The victim, a minor and the mayor’s own niece was briefly interviewed by reporters before being intercepted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel.
Interestingly, two weeks before the rape case exploded in the media, I visited this mayor in his house together with former Senator John Osmeña.
We monitored two other rape cases involving prominent political figures (a defeated congressional aspirant from the first district and another municipal mayor in a far-flung municipality in the fifth district).
Except for the ex-convict who spent several years in jail, the others were never persecuted. Because of their influence and power, their cases were either “kept under wraps,” or “settled” (meaning the “victims” decided not to lodge a formal complaint).
I recalled these cases when I learned that the Iloilo Provincial Board recently passed a resolution penned by Board Member June Mondejar urging Iloilo mayors to take action to curb the “alarming” number of rape cases in the province.
Mondejar said most of the rape cases logged by the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) last year and this year were incestuous or sexual assaults committed somebody with a close relationship to the victims such as a father, a stepfather, an uncle, or a cousin.
Mondejar wanted the mayors to initiate programs and measures to prevent all forms of sexual abuse in their respective municipalities.
Good move, but most rapists have serious psychological or mental issues that no amount of programs can scare or stop them from doing the crime. In fact, it has been proven that even the death penalty was not a deterrent to the commission of rape.
We doubt also if the mayors or their law enforcers can personally stop the rapes, which mostly happen in the darkness of night time and in secluded places.
Although this additional task will not really overburden the mayors, let’s hope that no perpetrator will come from their own ranks like in the cases I just mentioned.
Latin poet Juvenal once posed this question: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or “Who will guard the guards?”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)