Roque to confer with DFA chief plight of comfort women
Acting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday he will discuss with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano the plight of the Filipino "comfort women."
Roque, a lawyer by profession and who is expected to formally assume the post of President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman next week, used to represent the Malaya Lolas, a group of women who were raped systematically during World War II in their hometown of Candaba, Pampanga.
In his first briefing in Malacanang, Roque said he was sure Duterte, who just concluded a two-day visit to Japan, did not raise the issue involving the Filipino comfort women during his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"I’m almost sure this was not discussed in the Japan trip. I do not know if the President will bring it up, but in my personal capacity, I will confer with Secretary Alan Cayetano of the Department of Foreign Affairs," he said.
The Filipino comfort women, whose numbers have dwindled as many have passed away, have been demanding the Japanese government to issue a public apology, for historical inclusion of the reality of the commission of Japanese military's sexual slavery on comfort women, and for just compensation.
Asked how his new post could affect his advocacy for the comfort women, Roque said, "It hasn’t affected it at all in the sense that the advocacy is continued by CenterLaw (Center for International Law Manila), which is an organization that I founded."
"But I ceased to be connected with CenterLaw when I joined government as a member of Congress. Because the nature of civil society is that it is divorced from government. So I’m happy to say that I founded that organization, that they continue with the mandate, and they will continue even without me," he added.
CenterLaw, founded in 2003 as a non-stock non-profit corporation, is an advocacy group which works for the recognition and application of international law norms, specifically those relating to human rights, humanitarian law, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press. Celerina Monte/DMS