By Alu Aluzan-Aran
NAGA CITY --- The latest national data gathered by the Philippine National Police (PNP), indicated that in 2014, there were 49,883 cases of violence, rape, incest and other related cases of abuses on women and children nationwide, a staggering 51% increase from 25,430 cases declared in 2013.
In a research reported by rappler.com (March 2015), it showed that 1 in 5 Filipino women has experienced physical abuse since age 15. It also showed that only 30% of women sought assistance after being physically or sexually abused. (Women age 15 to 49. Source 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey). Among girls under 18 years old, 3,168 girls experienced abuse while 1,157 girls were sexually abused (448 cases involved incest). Many cases go unreported (Source: Number of child abuse cases handled by DSWD in 2014).
This pervasive social problem and gross violation of human rights, came to light when a policewoman assigned in the women and children’s desk in her precinct became a member of the JCI Naga Carinosa. She related the desperate plight of the victims who were abused but with nowhere else to go for assistance and support. While each government hospital is mandated to have a room dedicated to provide a wide range of medical and social services for abused women and children, the reality is not all the hospitals have them nor accommodate them all.
Under her leadership as then JCI Naga Carinosa president, Russel Pua–Tan rallied the idea of building a safe house or a half-way house for these women and children in Camarines Sur. The LGU of San Fernando, led by Mayor Fermin Mabulo, fully supported this project and the Sangguniang Bayan then approved a usufruct agreement (allowing the use of land for a minimum of 20 years) on a 1,800 sqm plot of land in Barangay Planza in San Fernando town.
The safe house, officially called Children and Women’s Wellness Training Center (CWWTC), can house 100 to 120 people at any given time. Apart from common sleeping and eating quarters, the center will have a clinic, function room, prayer area and an agri garden that will provide fresh vegetables and select livestock for the residents and staff of the center.
The center will also be assisted by a medical team composed of doctors, nurses, psychologists and counsellors. There will be mentors and coaches as well who will teach residents several skills – cooking, gardening/farming, sewing, weaving, etc. - to prepare them for a new beginning when they leave the center.
This project is being managed by a private group still led by Ms Pua-Tan and Ms Leanne Zuniga-Montemayor, in partnership with the LGU of San Fernando, JCI Naga Carinosa, DSWD and Tesda.
Construction of the center is now on-going. It is set to open in early 2020.