MANILA — The local government of Quezon City said Monday it has reopened its facility dedicated to respond to calls for help from victims of domestic and gender-based abuses, as reported cases of violence spiked during the coronavirus lockdowns.
In a statement, QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said the QC Protection Center will begin serving walk-in clients starting this week, and will cater primarily to women, children, and members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community who have experienced abuses.
The facility, located within the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) compound in Barangay Bahay Toro, was temporarily shut during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, although it continued to receive complaints via their email, hotline, and social media accounts.
"Sa pagdami ng kaso ng karahasan at pang-aabuso laban sa ating mga kababaihan, kabataan at miyembro ng LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, nakita namin ang pangangailangan na muling buksan ang QCPC para matugunan ang problemang ito," said Belmonte.
Belmonte cited news reports that "around 602 people... were raped from March 17 to May 23" nationwide as the reason for reopening the QC Protection Center.
"We need to provide vulnerable sectors of society an avenue where they can seek assistance against any form of violence and harassment, most especially now that they are frequently at home due to the modified enhanced community quarantine," said Belmonte.
The center provides free legal, medical and psychological assistance and intervention, among others, for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual harassment, according to Belmonte.
President Rodrigo Duterte in his weekly report to Congress last May 5 said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded 763 cases of crimes against women, and 521 crimes against children as of April 30.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) previously called on the Duterte administration to undertake measures to provide protection for the rights of women and children in light of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The United Nations had also urged governments worldwide to include the protection of women in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.