THE Caloocan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Friday has started hearing the motion of “Mila”, the victim of rape by Caloocan congressional candidate Dale “Along” Malapitan, son of Caloocan City 1st District Rep. Oscar Malapitan, for the court to release the judicial records of her rape case that was filed some five years ago.
Lawyer Trixie Angeles-Cruz, Mila’s counsel, said that the oral argument happened before the sala of Judge Teresa de Guzman–Alvarez of the Caloocan City RTC Branch 131.
The rape victim herself attended the hearing together with supporters from the women’s group Womens Advocacy for Gender Equality. The accused Dale Malapitan did not show up but was represented by a battery of lawyers.
“We will wait for a couple of days, at the moment submitted pa lang ang motion,” Angeles-Cruz said.
Angeles-Cruz expressed optimism that Judge de Guzman–Alvarez will grant their motion to release the records of the case “People v. Malapitan, et. al” despite the vehement objection of the lawyers of Malapitan.
“Very cooperative si judge. Fair naman siya. Pinakinggan niya both sides. We are hoping that mapagbigyan kami,” she said stressing that Mila is still suffering from her ordeal.
“Para siya ‘yung nakakulong kahit siya ‘yung biktima dito,” the lawyer said.
She also stressed that the release of the court records is very important saying: “Sa ngayon kailangan namin yung records. Crucial ‘yung dates. Kung dismissed nga yung case, paano na dismiss ang kaso? Was it for lack of probable cause or was it because of failure to prosecute? Na arraign ba ang akusado? Why wasn’t the victim asked to testify? Hindi namin alam at ayaw ilabas ng DSWD ang records.”
“Eh hangga’t di makikita ang records, lahat mere speculations,” she reiterated.
Angeles-Cruz said that they were forced to go the court after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-NCR) denied their request for Mila’s records citing their “confidentiality policy.”
Angeles-Cruz, filed the motion for the production of her judicial records with the RTC in order to determine the next legal step they will take towards bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice.
The lawyer said she refuses to speculate if the DSWD was trying to protect someone but expressed concern on why the DSWD was stonewalling the victim herself.
“We are doing this because when litigation began against Malapitan, his victim, “Mila” was a minor and in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Acting as her counsel was the lawyer for the department. However, the said agency, citing “confidentiality” did not release her records, including her copy of the judicial proceedings and filed documents,” she said.
Earlier, Angeles-Cruz appealed to the DSWD Central Office for the release of the records. In a letter addressed to Secretary Soliman, they expressed dismay over the DSWD’s confidentiality policy and sought the intervention of the Secretary over the said matter.
Angeles said that existing laws prevent publication and release of information pertaining to the victim in sexual and domestic abuse cases without the consent of the victim. Thus, the privacy provisions of the law do no apply to her since she herself requests her own records.
Alternatively, she seeks clarification of the said DSWD policy if the same applies to minor-victims like herself who seek their own records after they reach the age of majority.
“Denying her access to her own records is not only ridiculous, it is outright illegal,” Angeles said.
Angeles-Cruz said that she is wondering why the DSWD-NCR kept on denying them access to the victim’s records even if she already reached the “age of maturity”. The rape incident happened when Mila was still 16 years old. She is now 21.
“Why does the DSWD-NCR want to prevent Mila from accessing her records, which incidentally include her court records? As she was a minor at the time her case against then Barangay Captain, now Congressional candidate Dale Gonzalo Malapitan for rape was being litigated, she knew very little of what was going on and had no say in the decisions made about her. Her records will reveal the full extent of the whys and wherefores of the dismissal of her case, as well as her own admission and custody in the DSWD,” Angeles-Cruz stressed.
“But it seems, this victim is being victimized again,” she lamented.
The rape victim was under the protective custody of the DSWD from April 2008 to November 2011 after the case was filed by the Caloocan City Prosecutor’s Office with the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 131. The DSWD provided legal services and counseling to the victim who was a minor.
Meanwhile, DSWD-NCR refused to answer when asked by the media on why they keep on denying Mila access records to her own case.