Why it's he-said, she-said in rape cases

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2014 11:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2014 07:35 AM

MANILA – Rape victims have the right to decide when to file a complaint, as long as it is within the 20-year prescriptive period, a lawyer said Friday.

"Technically speaking, karapatan ng isang biktima na magdesisyon kung kailan siya magre-report, at kung batas lang ang pagbabatayan natin, yung 20-year period, anytime during the 20 years pwede sya magreklamo," Atty. Evalyn Ursua told dzMM.

The problem, according to Ursua, is that it is in the Filipino culture to question why some rape victims don't immediately file a complaint.

"Alam naman natin, pumapasok diyan sa usapin ay iyung ating kultura at ating mga pag-iisip tungkol sa biktima. Kumbaga, itatanong natin bakit hindi agad siya nag-report, bakit ngayon lang? Usually iyun lang ang palaging tanong," she said.

Ursua explained however, that there are various reasons why rape victims hesitate to immediately come forward.

"Para sa edukasyon ng ating mga kababayan, marami pa pong dahilan kung bakit hindi agad nagre-report kaagad ang biktima, at kadalasan dahil sa emotional trauma na dinaanan ng biktima. Iyan ay pumipigil sa kanya na magreklamo agad, among other reasons," she said.

"Natatakot siya, hindi niya sigurado kung mananalo siya sa kaso o kung paniniwalaan ba siya, wala siyang nakuhang suporta from family or friends. Iyun iyung maraming dahilan, mga pag-aalinlangan," she added.

She said, however, that in terms of evidence and credibility, it would be easier to prove the crime of rape if it was immediately reported.

"In terms of evidence, pag nagreklamo agad ay may malaking chance na nandiyan pa yung physical evidence, at in terms of recall ng details ng pangyayari, kung paano nangyari. Mas madaling i-recall kung kapa-pangyari pa lang. Pero kung matagal na, wala nang physical evidence, pagkatapos in terms of recall, medyo nawawala na kasi yung memory tungkol sa pangyayari kung matagal na," she said.

Ursua said the credibility of the victim will be questioned if a woman waits for years before reporting that a rape had been allegedly committed.

"Usually talaga kinukwestyon ang kredibilidad ng biktima kung matagal na syang hindi nagreklamo. Pero pinaglalaban namin ito kasi sinasabi namin that the court or rather the legal system has to understand why. Ibig sabihin hindi natin expect dapat na ang biktima ay magre-report agad-agad," Ursua noted.

Ursua also explained that the burden of proof in cases of rape usually lies on the victim.

"Ine-expect sya na ipaliwanag iyung delay dun sa pagreklamo nya. Patutunayan ng victim na siya ay ginahasa. Ganun po talaga sa lahat ng crnminal cases kasi mayroon tayong presumption of innocence," she explained.

The lawyer said that in rape cases, it will be word of the alleged victim against the word of the alleged rapist.

"Sa mga rape cases, wala naman ibang testigo yan eh, testigo lang talaga diyan yung biktima. So kung walang ibang tao na mag-corroborate sa kanyang storya, mahirap talaga magpatunay ng rape case," she said.