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Photos of kissing between Filipina, Panamanian don’t disprove rape, says Sotto

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 05:47 PM May 19, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Saturday bristled at photos showing a Panamanian kissing a Filipino woman in the elevator before his alleged rape of her took place.

“The message is that once you allow yourself to be kissed on the first date that means you can be raped. Well, they’re wrong. If at the point of insertion, the woman says `no’ and you still do it, that’s rape. That’s the law,” Sotto said in a telephone interview, citing the law against rape.

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Sotto was riled by photo grabs released by Erick Bairnals Shcks to the press showing him and the 19-year-old woman kissing in the elevator on their way up to his condominium unit in Makati City, where the alleged rape took place on the night of April 23.

“If that came from the Panamanian, the Department of Justice should all the more be outraged,” he said.

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In an e-mailed statement to media, Shcks claimed he did not coerce the victim to go with him or spend the night with him “to have sex.” He said they dined and went to a bar at her invitation, and he later invited her to his apartment, which she accepted.

The victim filed a complaint with the police who arrested Shcks the next day. Prosecutors filed an information of rape against him with the Makati regional trial court, but this was withdrawn after the Department of Foreign Affairs certified he had immunity from criminal prosecution.

In last Thursday’s hearing by the Senate foreign relations committee, Senators Loren Legarda and Sotto upbraided Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis for quickly declaring the immunity of Shcks in disregard of the victim’s rights.

In a statement issued later in the day, Sotto said he found it incredible that Shcks would claim innocence and yet flew out of the country on May 11.

“If no rape transpired, why did the accused leave the country immediately?  Why did he get the Filipina drunk and smoke marijuana before the criminal act was committed?  Does it mean that when Filipinas kiss, they are soliciting to be raped? Why did not the diplomat escort the Filipina to get a cab after the incident if all was well?’’ he said.

The senator said the footage showing Shcks and the woman kissing was not proof that no rape happened. He said he had information that “she was assured that people were coming over to the room so there was nothing to worry about.”

“It is unfortunate that the whole system, the government, our own Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice, and their offices, have joined the chorus against the victim rather than hear her story first,” he said.

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“Colonial mentality is still with us.  We believe a foreigner more than we believe a Filipina who made a sworn statement that she was raped and went through the hassle of filing a case in court,” he added.

The senator wondered: “Would Panama have the same reaction if a Filipino was accused of rape in Panama?”

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TAGS: Crime, diplomatic immunity, Erick Bairnals Shcks, Features, Foreign affairs, Panama, Philippines, Rape, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto, Senate
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