By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent
The current street slang “palit-puri” and “kama o kulong” to have sex with women detained for illegal drug charges in exchange for somebody’s freedom came to light as a clandestine practice that has victimized a good number of women.
In a damage control mode, Philippine National Police Chief Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde said that Police Officer 1 Eduardo Valencia of the Manila Police who was charged with raping a 15-year-old girl in exchange for setting her parents free from drug charges, is an isolated case.
But in a press conference, the Coalition against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) claimed that sex-for-freedom is frequently proposed by rogue policemen to women whose relatives are facing drug charges or any other crime.
CATW-AP Executive Director Jean Enriquez said some incarcerated women would agree out of fear or desperation while the erring cops enjoy it “with impunity.”
An international non-government organization, CATW-AP said it has several women under its care forced to have sex with policemen in exchange for the dropping of charges against them or a family member. The group is documenting these cases while providing first aid and empowerment training for the victims.
According to Enriquez, the “sex-for-freedom scheme” has been a “common practice” among policemen but it has “worsened” under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
“We were very concerned that this would happen. Before (the Duterte administration), the (tit for tat offer was) kama o kulong. Now, the (some policemen) are using drug charges to force women to have sex with them. It’s really appalling to us,” Enriquez revealed.
CATW-AP objected to the term palit-puri, preferring to use palit-katawan to refer to this crime. “We are changing the notion of rape as a crime against chastity,” Enriquez said.
The PNP dismissed claims that a “palit-puri” scheme is rampant in its ranks.
“Records will show that these are all isolated cases. It’s not every day that these things happen. That’s totally harsh and unfair (to us),” Albayalde told reporters.
Albayalde said the policeman from Sampaloc, Manila has been charged with rape. He is also facing a separate administrative case that may lead to his dismissal from service, the PNP earlier said.
According to reports, Valencia offered to give the victim a ride home. But he took her to a hotel in Sta. Mesa where he allegedly raped the girl.
Authorities said a medical examination showed laceration in the minor’s genitals, indicating that she was sexually abused.
The Manila Police District has formalized the filing of rape charges against Valencia before the city prosecutor’s office.
In a radio-TV interview, PNP spokesperson Police Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana said the Force considers the embattled cop’s statement as his “alibi.”
“Fifteen-years-old, you know, will not embarrass herself before the public. So, we are inclined to believe that that incident really happened,” Durana said.
But the PNP spokesman also stressed, “While we want to give due process to the drug suspects, we should likewise give due process to our police personnel.”
Albayalde said, “There was never a single incident of that sort, ‘yung sinasabi n’yo nang ganun. There (was) probably sexual advances pero ‘dun sa sinasabi nilang rampant, that’s too harsh.”
The country’s top cop assured that the police would show no mercy to Valencia if he were proven guilty.
Valencia’s arrest came amid recent opinion polls showing growing distrust of the police force and unease with their conduct in President Duterte’s deadly drug war, which has killed thousands of mostly poor urban Filipinos.
Human rights monitors say most of the fatalities in the government’s anti-narcotic drive are extra-judicial killings committed by cops, something the Duterte administration vehemently rejects.