Statement of the Commission on Human Rights strongly condemning the series of cases of violence against young women

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights strongly condemning the series of cases of violence against young women

⚠️ Trigger warning: Murder, rape, killings, assault ⚠️

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) strongly deplores the series of separate incidences of violence committed against young women in Cebu City, Negros Oriental, and Naga City.

The first case involves the gruesome murder of a 19-year-old in Cebu City who was later identified as Rhea Mae Tocmo, a resident of Panabo, Davao del Norte. On 17 July 2023, the victim was found dead inside a box secured with a packaging tape. Based on the initial reports of the local police, the young woman was possibly tortured. Further probe and medical examination are still being done to determine the motive of the killing.

The second case involves a missing 17-year-old teenager who was found dead with a bra around her neck. According to the Valencia Police, the victim, Anna Jean dela Cruz, was reported missing on 22 July 2023 and her body was discovered the following day, 23 July 2022, in a dense area in Barangay Caidiocan in the city of Valencia in Negros Oriental. The crime suspect is the victim’s stepfather, Mitchiel Diego, who confessed to the killing but denied that he raped her.

Another 17-year-old senior high school student was found dead in an abandoned house after being reported missing for one week. Roselle Bandajo from Naga, Camarines Sur, was last seen on 22 July 2023 when she was asked to buy food at around 8:00 PM in the evening. In Zamboanga City, Louella Jaganas Acaylar, also a 17-year-old teen was found dead in a vacant lot in Barangay Pasabolong with an ecobag strap around her neck. While the victim is wearing her clothes and pants, an underwear was seen near her body. For both cases, the respective local authorities will do an autopsy to the victims’ remains to determine their cause of her death.

The most recent case happened in Dipaculao, Aurora, which involves a seven-year-old child allegedly raped by an elderly man. The suspect reportedly bought bread for the child then took her to his house where he allegedly raped her. Counselling is being provided to the child.

The Commission acknowledges the commitment of the local authorities to conduct a full swing investigation to ensure justice for the young women and their families. The concerned CHR regional offices has also taken cognizance of these cases to monitor their development and aid in their resolution.

These grave cases that repeatedly happen in various areas of the country remind us of the continuing pervasiveness of gender-based violence and how it imperils the lives of young women. [1]This is the fourth consecutive month that the CHR monitored and took cognizance of series of violence against women and young girls As Gender Ombud, we continue to drum up the expedient need to create a safer environment for all, regardless of gender. We also reiterate the need to strongly implement the Anti-Violence Against Women Act to ensure that all cases of violence against women and young girls are brought to account and to prevent reoccurrence of such atrocities.

It is incumbent upon the government and all stakeholders to strengthen programs that promote respect, equality, and non-discrimination in accordance with our commitment under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Collective action and vigilance from citizens and communities are also necessary to truly cultivate a safe and caring environment for all, particularly for vulnerable sectors, including women. ###

To report emergency cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) and gender-based violence, contact the PNP Women and Children Protection Center’s Facebook page or mobile number at 09197777377.

To report cases of sexual abuse, contact:
CHR Citizens’ Help and Assistance Division
?(02) 8294-8704
?0920 506 1194 (Smart)
?0936 068 0982 (Globe)

To report violations of the Safe Spaces Act and street harassment in public and online spaces, visit the CHR’s Bawal Bastos portal:

[1] Statement of the Commission on Human Rights strongly decrying the recent series of violence against women

[2] Statement of the Commission on Human Rights denouncing the recent cases of rape in Lucena City, Quezon and Naga City, Cebu

[3] Statement of the Commission on Human Rights strongly condemning the spate of sexual abuse and violence targeting children