Category: LEGAL NEWS


Supreme Court rape myths violate women’s rights

By: Rebecka Koziomtzis and Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco@inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:16 AM May 19, 2017

The Supreme Court should be ashamed of its recent rape decisions. Like sidewalk fortune-tellers who rely on playing cards to determine the future, the Court relies on debunked rape myths and false stereotypes to determine guilt. It has acquitted proven rapists as a result. This is not only tragic for rape victims, it also violates the Philippines’ human rights obligations under international law.

In a case decided in February, the victim testified that she fell asleep from dizziness while drinking alcohol with the accused and another friend. She was roused from sleep when the other friend started having sex with her. She was afraid that a knife atop a nearby table “would be used to kill her if she resisted,” so she cried. She was still dizzy, frightened, and shivering when the friend left and the accused approached her to ask if he could also have sex with her. She did not answer as she was still shivering, but the accused nevertheless raped her.

Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found the victim’s testimony “credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things,” and so held the accused guilty. But the Supreme Court acquitted the accused. It held that the victim gave the accused “the impression thru her unexplainable silence of her tacit consent” because “she did not, and chose not to utter a word or make any sign of rejection.”

The Court repeated this reasoning last month, when it acquitted an accused rapist because there was no evidence that the victim “resisted in that whole time,” and held that “[w]hat she did not do was eloquent proof of her consent.” This reasoning follows the common misconception that victims instinctively scream and physically resist their rapists. That is simply untrue. Victims rarely react to rape this way. In fact, psychological studies consistently show that the brain’s usual response to a violent or threatening situation is to paralyze the body—a state called “frozen fright.” Physical resistance is consequently often beyond the conscious control of rape victims. The Court’s reasoning thus conditions justice on a requirement that defies human nature. To expect victims to scream and physically resist their rapists is to expect them to override the brain’s inherent survival mechanism. To find consent in the victim’s nonresistance is therefore outrageous.

An international human rights body has in fact castigated the Philippines for adhering to this rape myth. Ten years ago, a Filipino woman went to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to claim that the Philippines violated her right to nondiscrimination when her rapist was acquitted based on several rape myths, including the myth that rape victims naturally resist their rapists. The Committee agreed with her, stating in 2010 that “to expect [the victim] to have resisted in the situation at stake reinforces in a particular manner the myth that women must physically resist the sexual assault. In this regard, the Committee stresses that there should be no assumption in law or in practice that a woman gives her consent because she has not physically resisted the unwanted sexual conduct.” The Committee concluded that the Philippines failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and recommended that the Philippines compensate the woman and “[e]nsure that all legal procedures in cases involving crimes of rape and other sexual offences are impartial and fair, and not affected by prejudices or stereotypical gender notions.”

Seven years after these recommendations, prejudices and false gender stereotypes still grip our courts. And the Supreme Court still follows the same debunked myth that rape victims instinctively resist rapists. Meanwhile, police records show that one woman or child is raped in the Philippines every hour. To help deliver justice to these victims, the Court must recognize the reality of rape and stop anchoring its decisions on rape myths.

Rebecka Koziomtzis is a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. Her dissertation is on rape and international law. Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco is a JSD candidate at Yale Law School. He graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

SC stops anti-graft court from hearing graft case vs ex-Iloilo governor Tupas Sr.

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer Visayas

7:09 pm | Sunday, June 5th, 2011


ILOILO CITY,Philippines—The Supreme Court has temporarily barred the Sandiganbayan from hearing a graft case against former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas.

In a resolution dated May 30, the high court’s second division issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) directing the Sandiganbayan’s First Division to suspend hearing the criminal charges against the former governor and several others related to alleged irregularities in the issuance of a quarry permit during the construction of the P8-billion Iloilo airport.

The court said in its resolution that the TRO would be in effect until the resolution of two pending petitions for certiorari filed separately by Tupas and his co-accused against the resolutions of the Ombudsman indicting them of violations of the Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

The court also directed the Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman to comment on the petitions for certiorari within 10 days after the receipt of the order.

On April 15, 2010, the Ombudsman issued a resolution finding probable cause against Tupas for alleged administrative and criminal liabilities in issuing an Industrial Sand and Gravel (Isag) permit to a quarrying firm involved in the construction of theIloiloairport. Also found liable were six others including five members of the Montesclaros family.

It said the governor acted in bad faith when he approved the sand and gravel quarrying application of businessman Melvin Requinto on Sept. 8, 2004, even if Requinto’s business failed to meet technical requirements and operational experience including the operation of a crushing and screening plant.

The Ombudsman added that one of the quarrying firm’s stockholders and directors, Marianito Montesclaros, was the father of the governor’s daughter in-law, Binky April Montesclaros-Tupas. She is married to the governor’s son Raul.

The Ombudsman ordered Tupas’ dismissal from government service but said that it was unenforceable because of his re-election into office in May 2007. The anti-graft body, however, proceeded with the criminal charges against the accused.

The resolution was affirmed on March 2 by then Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, which paved the way for the filing of cases before the Sandiganbayan.

Tupas questioned the Ombudsman resolution saying that the validity of the quarry permit was already affirmed in a civil case resolved by the Iloilo Regional Trial Court.

The former governor also questioned the March 2 resolution affirming his indictment, saying it was released at the height of the House impeachment proceedings against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

The proceeding was chaired by his son Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., who chaired the House committee on justice.


The brave and courageous Heidi Mendoza

By Karen Galarpe,

Posted at 02/02/2011 3:54 PM | Updated as of 02/03/2011 9:40 AM


MANILA, Philippines – Her face is now splashed on news websites and newspapers, and mentioned in newscasts nationwide. Heidi Mendoza, former auditor of the Commission on Audit (COA), knew her days of living a quiet and anonymous life would come to an end as soon as she testified before the House of Representatives regarding anomalies in the military.

And so that quiet life did end yesterday as she spilled what she knew of anomalous transactions involving top generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Such a brave soul, this Heidi Mendoza is.

But who is she really?

On “The Rundown” last night on ANC, we were given a glimpse of this courageous woman.

A policeman’s daughter 

Mendoza is the daughter of a police officer, and is a reserve officer herself in the military with a rank of lieutenant colonel.

She finished her master’s degree in national security administration in 2003 at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP).

After graduating from the NDCP, she was asked by former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo to investigate anomalies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Heidi Mendoza (right) during her graduation at the National Defense College of the Philippines in 2003 with then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (middle).

 She worked with the COA for more than 20 years and became an expert in fraud investigations of government transactions.

One case she audited was that of Atty. Zacaria A. Candao, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who was found to have committed malversation of P21 million in government funds.

According to Mendoza, she was offered money and property just so she will drop the case. Mendoza stood her ground and refused the offer.

The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of Candao in 2010.

Why Heidi Mendoza came out with all guns blazing

By Leila B. Salaverria, Delfin Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:36:00 02/03/2011

Filed Under: Accounting and Audits, Military, Graft & Corruption, Civil & Public Services

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MANILA, Philippines—Talk that she would be blamed for a weak plunder case against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia prompted former state auditor Heidi Mendoza to speak out against the prosecutors’ decision to enter into a plea bargain deal with the retired major general.

This was according to former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, one of those whom Mendoza had consulted before she surfaced to tell the country that there was evidence to pin down Garcia.

Her elder sister said Mendoza’s decision to expose corruption in the military was simply living up to the final words of their father.

“Before our father died, the last message that he left to us was: ‘Huwag kayong kakain ng anuman na galing sa nakaw. Magtiis sa kahirapan at magtiyaga kung anuman ang mayroon sa buhay. (Don’t eat anything that came from theft. Bear poverty and whatever you have),’” said Mendoza’s sister, Gigi de Castro.

“No coercion and any form of harassment can break her will and no material things can tempt her to back out,” De Castro said in a phone interview on Wednesday from the nearby city of Tayabas in Quezon province.

Their father, Agapito Lloce Sr., a retired policeman, died in 1983 from a heart ailment and diabetes.

Mendoza, who led a team that audited military transactions between 2004 and 2006, testified in the plunder case against Garcia. She detailed a transaction involving a P200-million check, of which P50 million was unaccounted for.

Prosecutors earlier said that Mendoza’s testimony had been debunked by military personnel, who testified that the Armed Forces had been able to reconcile the discrepancy that the auditor found.

It was Mendoza who made up her mind to come out in the open, but she was not alone when she made that difficult choice, Marcelo said.

Ateneo support group

Marcelo said Mendoza’s husband, a group of friends from Ateneo de Manila University that included Fr. Bert Alejo, and members of nongovernment organizations were with Mendoza when she was weighing the pros and cons of speaking publicly.

The meeting took place at the Ateneo School of Governance in Makati City last month.

Before the meeting, Marcelo said he had been regularly in touch with Mendoza. He said Mendoza had been giving him words of support because he was speaking out against the plea bargain deal and as a result became a target of criticism.


Some time last month, Mendoza called Marcelo up to relay what she was told—that there was talk that she would be among those to be blamed for the weak evidence against Garcia.

Marcelo and former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio were the others who would be blamed for the weak case. “She told me, ‘what will happen? The public would not know the truth,’” Marcelo said.

Losing ADB job

Marcelo told Mendoza that she would have to decide for herself, since she could lose a very good job at the Asian Development Bank if she speaks up.

But Mendoza told Marcelo that she was having difficulty sleeping over the matter and then called for a meeting with friends.

At the meeting, the group talked about the risks of speaking out against the prosecutors’ stand that the case against Garcia was weak. The group also told her that coming out publicly was a decision that was hers to make alone.

Danger to family

One of the points raised at the meeting was that coming forward would have grave repercussions on Mendoza’s family.

Marcelo said he had pointed out that one of the witnesses in the plunder case against deposed President Joseph Estrada continued to have a guard even 10 years after the case. He said life for the witness was never the same even after the case was completed.

But Mendoza’s resolve to tell her story apparently outweighed the risks she could face. “She said, ‘If I don’t come out, it would be the same. I would never feel comfortable,”’ Marcelo narrated.

Talk with husband

Mendoza then took her husband aside and they talked. Afterward, she came up to the group and said she would speak up. She asked the group to help her with advice, with legal counsel and with security.

She also gave the go-signal for the airing of the first TV interview that she gave. She had agreed to the interview on the condition that it would not air until she says so.

Clan proud of Heidi

All of Lloce’s seven children—5 girls and 2 boys—hail from Tayabas at the foot of the mystical Mount Banahaw. Mendoza is the second to the youngest.

“Our father died with an unblemished record as a policeman. Heidi’s ongoing battle now against graft and corruption mirrors our father’s legacy. The whole clan is proud of her,” De Castro said.

Johnny Glorioso, dzMM news correspondent and long-time resident of Tayabas, remembered the elder Lloce as a member of the local police force.

“He is one fine example of an honest cop,” Glorioso said. “No wonder Heidi is now showing signs of the character of her late father.”

Lack of sleep

De Castro said she was able to talk with her younger sister on Tuesday evening.

“We all pity her. She’s now frail because of lack of sleep, tension and all,” she said, her voice trembling.

“She was very apologetic when she told me that all her family members should avoid making phone calls to her. That we should be contented with sending text messages but not so often. She’s really sorry that our lives will all be affected because of her current situation. But we all understand her,” De Castro added.

De Castro said, however, that she once asked Mendoza to stop her battle against influential and moneyed military officials for the safety of her own family but the advice was ignored.

Lots of blessings

De Castro remembered her sister’s response to her plea: “I have already received lots of blessings from the Lord. I could not turn my back on this little task that He assigned to me. I’m just His instrument to uphold the truth. What I have with me are documents, all products of my faithful investigation as a public servant.”

She said her sister, whom she described as courageous, intelligent and principled, reminded her that she was just obeying their father’s last message in his deathbed.

De Castro said her sister would not accept any form of gifts, not even fruits or gasoline money, and had been reluctant to give her calling card, especially to government officials with graft cases.


Mendoza graduated valedictorian in her high school class in a private academy in Tayabas and obtained her college degree at Sacred Heart College in Lucena City.

She left Tayabas after her graduation in the early 1980s and immediately worked at the Commission on Audit. She married a college professor in a Manila university. They have three children, all college students, according to her sister.

Tayabas Vice Mayor Venerando Rea said Mendoza was often invited as a guest speaker at graduation rites in her hometown. He recalled that the last time he heard her give a graduation message was when she urged the graduating class to be honest in all their dealings in life.

Rea said the local government of Tayabas would adopt a resolution declaring its support for Mendoza.