By: Rheinhart G. Pahila, USA LAW Batch 2018
FOR MOST of us, we see [our] laws as yet another abstract product of Congress. Most often than not, it flipped through our senses unnoticed, not until it involved the very core of our existence as legal being. Most especially today, we live in a generation of uncertainties. We breathe each day with [a] thin air of half-truth and half-lies. As we stand witness to this seemingly innocuous time of our history, we felt the need to act and take our active role to Educate, Empower and Elevate.
We envision a future where strong letters of laws will fully served [their] respective legislative intent. With our little hands, we hope to paint a concrete picture where laws will NOT be stuck in the dampened corner of our legislative houses.
In celebration of women’s month, we started our small cause for women with one firm belief: That Together, in raising awareness, we can break the chain, empower women and help end violence.
This is a legacy project of University of San Agustin College of Law Batch 2018 and this is OUR STORY.
LEGAL SOUND WAVES
Perhaps one of the effective channels of realizing the project’s goal of educating, empowering and elevating women’s rights more particularly on Republic Act 9262 [Law on Violence Against Women and their children] is through a radio program.
With this in mind, EMPOWER partnered with Bombo Radyo’s Sunday legal program, Dura Lex Sed Lex. Last March 3, 2019, Atty. Alonette Ragodo-Perez of Public Attorney’s Office discussed the substantive aspect of RA 9262.
Atty. Perez elaborated that VAWC can be committed by ANY PERSON against a woman, who is his wife, former wife or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode .
Furthermore, Atty. Perez emphasized that there are four forms of violence as provided under RA 9262: Physical Violence, Sexual violence, Psychological violence and Economic abuse.
The second wave of legal lecture was conducted last March 10, 2019, Atty. Jonnie Dabuco, Regional Director [Officer-in-Charge] of Commission of Human Rights, emphasized that ”Women’s Rights are Human Rights”.
The CHR was designated as the Gender and Development Ombudsman under the Magna Carta of Women [RA 9710] which seeks to capture the principles of gender equality and woman empowerment as provided in the said law.
Atty. Dabuco also discussed the procedural aspects of RA 9262, specifically on the legal procedures in applying for Barangay Protection Order [BPO], Temporary Protection Order [TPO] and Permanent Protection Order [TPO].
GIRL POWER: A Football Fest for a Cause
Promoting gender equality and women empowerment through sports is one of the advocacies of the La Legis Football Club of the USA-College of Law.
A one-day Football Fest[last March 10, 2019 ] was not only a venue to foster camaraderie and sportsmanship, to give women football aficionados an opportunity to enjoy the game they love, but it was likewise to show that women can excel in sports too. The funds raised from the activity were used for a bookshelf that was donated to the DSWD Home for Girls.
BABAYE, BULAHAN KA!
Women wear different masks and through these masks they continually portray different roles in our society. Last March 8, 2019, in celebration of International Women’s Day, EMPOWER, launched “BABAYE, BULAHAN KA!” A Photo and Artwork Exhibit at Herrera Hall Lobby of University of San Agustin.
The legacy project of Batch 2018 USA College of Law showcased artworks of HIMBON, group of Ilonggo artists featuring different faces of women, Inday Dolls of Hilway – dolls personally sewn by women inmates of BJMP, photo entries of the students of UP Visayas College of Management and students of USA College of Law.
The Art and Photo Exhibit was also participated by different government agencies such as the Commission of Human Rights, Public Attorney’s Office and Department of Social Welfare and Development through their Sustainable Livelihood Program.
WOMEN AS ECONOMIC DRIVERS
One of the forms of abuses protected by RA 9262 is economic abuse. Victims of this form of abuse involve inability to earn their own income because they were forcibly prohibited by their partners to engage in any form of commercial or economic activities or simply because their present situation and circumstances had prevented them to earn a living.
As an extension of EMPOWER’S information drive campaign on RA 9262, the project extended its reach at the Shops at Atria last March 12-14, 2019. The campaign featured women as economic drivers and catalysts for change. Batch 2018 of USA College of Law shares a firm belief with Women Champion Farmers of Lambunao, Sustainable Livelihood Program of DSWD and Inday dolls, that women too can also be active economic partners in our society. Women’s role in nation building is not only confined in home management but active economic drivers.
PAGHILIUGYON: LEGAL FORUM
EMPOWER as a legacy project started with this banner activity, PAGHILIUGYON: An Anti-Violence Against Women Awareness campaign and Legal Counselling.
With one firm belief: ”That Together, in raising awareness, we can break the chain, empower women and help end violence, Batch 2018 invited Atty. Elijo Sharon Herrera-Bellones, a faculty member of USA College of Law; SPO3 Ruth Laudato of the Women’s Desk of Iloilo City Police Office; and Mrs. Haydee Canilla of Department of Social Welfare and Development last March 16, 2019 to discuss substantial and procedural aspects of RA 9262.
During the legal forum, key roles of different sectors [private, government agency and law enforecement] were revisited in order to identify problem areas in addressing violence against women and their children.
Beyond the confines of the university, the legal forum was brought to the ground where real people meet real situations.
Last March 19, 2019, EMPOWER hosted another legal forum in Dingle to discuss the salient features of RA 9262, the procedural aspects and different key roles of Commission of Human Rights and Public Attorney’s Office in addressing violence against women and their children. The legal forum was conducted by Mr. Chris Montano, Division Chief, Information and Education, Commission of Human Rights, Atty. Ann Sorianosos-Estomo, of Public Attorney’s Office, Atty Jasmin Ocbena-Doncillo, of Public Attorney’s Office and Atty. Queenie Solidum of the Public Attorney’s Office.
The month-long project ended with an outreach activity last March 23, 2019 at the Department of Social Welfare and Development Home for Girls. The center is the haven for children who were victims of domestic violence, abuse and rape. The Home for girls serves as temporary shelter for these victims while they are undergoing therapy after a traumatic turn around. Batch 2018 of USA College of Law donated an activity center which will serve as a play pen to temporarily ease the psychological pain these victims have long endured.
EMPOWER also conducted Art Therapy class and children’s play session to help these girls realize that amidst their innocent sufferings, EMPOWER is one with them as their Big Sisters and Big Brothers.