Wenceslao: Priest's Accuser Needs Understanding

By Bong O. Wenceslao
Sun.Star [Philippines]
January 12, 2007

I pity the girl who accused former Maslog, Danao City parish priest Jose "Joey" Belciņa of rape. Ridiculed by the priest's fans early on, she is now being condemned by those who frowned on her decision to call for the dismissal of the child abuse rap filed against the priest so she can "move on." She has thus become a victim many times over.

What is unfortunate there are the rumors, like the one about her getting P300,000 in exchange for agreeing to a settlement.

Sun.Star Network Online's 12th Asean Summit watch

That resurrected speculations that the girl may not have been raped after all. Overnight, she has become to the eyes of her critics a girl with loose morals. And yet these pompous souls have never even seen the girl in person.

Lost in the rumor-mongering and speculation spree was Belciņa's statement made in December in front of Maslog parishioners. While the priest was vague, probably intentionally, his asking for forgiveness for whatever wrongs he did spoke volumes. I understand that episode was part of the settlement terms the protagonists agreed on.

That reminds me of another sorry instance, the Subic rape case. Even after the court convicted Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith for raping "Nicole," pompous souls continue to ridicule the Filipina for supposedly virtually asking the American serviceman to rape her. The "cute" theory was that "Nicole" had loose morals and thus deserved to be raped.

Some say this is a manifestation of a macho culture, one that glories in the sexual exploits of men and considers women as trophies to be collected. But I say our penchant to ridicule women who complain of rape is actually a product of ignorance---ignorance of the circumstances surrounding the cases and ignorance of values like women's rights.

I understand why the girl chose to end the litigation instead of engaging in a protracted judicial exchange. The case had become too bruising a process for a rural girl to withstand. She wants to move on with her life, to put the issue behind her and to continue her studies. Full justice was not achieved, true, but she has her life to attend to.

It would have been good that she pursued the case to the end, but who are we to tell her what to do with her life? We can only urge, not force her, to go on fighting. But if she gives up, we should understand her, not condemn her or spread insinuations against her. That is the least we can do for a girl who has been victimized many times over.

( 0915-9228651/my blog:

Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.