Negros Oriental fast tracks completion of Women’s Crisis Center

Negros Oriental Provincial GAD Focal Person Josefina Columna (with mic) gives an update on the construction of A1 Womens Crisis Center in Capitol Area, Dumaguete City during a Kapihan sa PIA on Nov. 28, 2023 at Bethel Guest House, Dumaguete City. This is in response to DILG GAD Focal Person Mary Cindy Uy (2nd from right)’s observation that there are limited shelter facilities for battered women in Negros Oriental which she expressed in the same event. (KAT/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental (PIA) — The provincial government here is fast tracking the completion of the Women’s Crisis Center at the Capitol Area, Dumaguete City amid the call for more shelters for abused women in the province.

Provincial Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Person Josefina Columna said the crisis center, which is compliant in the A1 standard set by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), is expected to be operational by the second half of 2024.

Construction of the Women’s Crisis Center started in 2015 with a budget of P10 million from the province’s GAD funds.

The lack of shelter for abused women in every local government unit (LGU) in Negros Oriental was one of the issues raised during the recent Kapihan sa PIA hosted by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here to mark the observation of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW).

Currently, only Dumaguete City has a functional shelter, said Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) GAD Focal Person Mary Cindy Uy.

Uy said the shelter in Dumaguete also caters to victims of abuse from other LGUs in the province, as long as the families of the victim or their LGU provide a subsistence allowance.

“Ato na gi-advocate na unta naa ta shelter facility na naa sa A1 standard sa DILG. Hopefully, usa ni sa malantaw sa mga atong provincial government ug mga cities. For our congressional representatives, bason matan-aw pod ni. Even bisan mga shared facilities among districts,” said Uy.

(We are advocating for shelter facilities that are compliant with the A1 standard set by DILG. Hopefully, the provincial government and the cities will look into this, including our congressional representatives. Even a shared facility among districts will be good for now.)

Crisis centers for abused women are seen as key in the government’s measures to address VAW as they provide a space for battered women to recover from the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma of abuse.

The shelters also serve as a venue for legal, psycho-social, and livelihood interventions for the women.

VAW referral systems in barangays
The DILG official also called on newly-elected barangay officials to boost their VAW referral systems.

She explained that an effective referral system means access to legal service providers, law enforcers, social workers, livelihood program implementers, and psychologists for abused women.

Amid the lack of shelters for abused women in the province, Columna assured the public that the provincial government is always ready to provide assistance to abused women.

“Ang atong kagamhanan probinsiyal gahatag gayod og assistance sa mga biktima na idulog sa lalawigan. Usually ang idulog sa lungsod iduso na dire sa probinsiya. Ug dinhi sa probinsiya, if they need lawyers, naa tay mahatag ana nila ug uban pang mga intervention na ila gikinahanglan, gitubag gud na sa lalawigan.”

(Our provincial government has been providing assistance to victims of abuse that are referred to us. Usually, those victims from the municipalities are often referred to us and we provide them with lawyers or other interventions they would want to avail from us),” Columna said.

Higher VAW cases
Reported VAW cases in Negros Oriental almost doubled from January to November 2023, compared to the same period last year.

From 179 cases recorded in January to November 2022, it jumped to 363 cases in the same period this year, said PNP Negros Oriental Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) Chief P/Lt. Helen Grace Aldirite.

“Hapit madoble ang cases or incident nato sa VAW,” said Aldirite.

(VAW cases almost doubled this year.)

Out of the 363 cases of abuse logged this year, only 92 cases were filed in court.

The other 268 cases ended with the victims executing an affidavit of non-interest in filing cases, while three cases are under investigation.

VAW cases in 2023 involved rape (20), acts of lasciviousness (26), gender-based sexual harassment (1), cases related to violations of RA 9262, or Violation Against Women and Children Act (308).

Of the 308 cases related to the violation of RA 9262, only 37 were filed in court, while 251 filed affidavits of non-interest to file a complaint.

Aldirite said one major reason why victims back out of filing the complaint is financial instability as they economically depend on their intimate partners.

The Kapihan sa PIA program in Negros Oriental is a multi-sectoral forum conducted on Tuesdays at Bethel Guesthouse, Dumaguete City. It is streamed live on the Facebook page of PIA Negros Oriental. (RAL/PIA7-Negros Oriental)

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