Filipina in rape case vs Panamanian arrives at Senate probeBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines — The 19-year-old Filipino woman who has accused a Panamanian national of rape showed up Thursday at the Senate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and the eventual release of the suspect.
The victim, who is identified only as “Pamela” was recognized by Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto when the committee on foreign relations began its hearing shortly before 11:00 a.m.
It was Sotto who initiated the hearing in the Senate.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in her opening statement, explained why her office could not stop the suspect, Erick Bairnals Shck, technical officer of the Panama Maritime Authority, from leaving of the country.
De Lima said the complaint filed against the suspect at the prosecutors’ office in Makati would have not been withdrawn if the Department of Foreign Affairs did not issue a certificate, saying that Shck is entitled to diplomatic immunity.
De Lima said she was also assured that talks between the DFA and Panamanian authorities were taking place on the possible waiver of the suspect’s immunity.
In fact, she said the Panamanian ambassador had sought an audience with her seeking assurances of a fair and speedy trial if and when they opt to issue the waiver.
“Unfortunately that did not come about,” De Lima said.
The Justice Secretary also reiterated that at this moment, she has no power to issue a hold departure order pending a temporary restraining order filed in court questioning the authority of her office to issue the same on the case of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.