• The panel noted the government had "special and esteemed" treatment for war veterans
  • The committee recommended the Philippine government provide "full reparation"
  • It also said the government should provide material and moral damages for the "continuous discrimination"

A United Nations (UN) committee has recommended that the Philippines government provide "full reparation" to Filipino women who were sexually assaulted during World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said the Philippine government "violated the rights" of the sexual slavery victims, also called "comfort women," by not providing the victims with the appropriate aid.

"The UN women's rights committee has found that the Philippines violated the rights of victims of sexual slavery perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War by failing to provide reparation, social support and recognition commensurate with the harm suffered," the CEDAW said in a statement Wednesday.

The panel said its findings stemmed from the complaint of the "comfort women." A total of 24 Filipina nationals, members of non-profit Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers), filed a complaint with the committee in 2019, seeking accountability from the Philippine government.

CEDAW panel member Marion Bethel said the committee's decision on the complaint was a "symbolic moment of victory for these victims who were previously silenced, ignored, written off and erased from history in the Philippines."

According to the panel, Filipina complainant Natalia Alonzo and 23 others were "forcibly taken" to the Japanese headquarters in Pampanga on Nov. 23, 1944, and detained for up to three weeks.

While detained, they "repeatedly subjected to rape, other forms of sexual violence, torture and inhumane detention conditions." The committee said the victims endured long-term physical, psychological, social and economic effects of the traumatic experiences they went through.

While the committee acknowledged that the Philippines waived its right to compensation of how Filipinos were treated by the Japanese army during World War II due to the Treaty of Peace in 1956, it "underlined that it is a case of continuous discrimination."

The panel went on to note that the Philippine government has had "special and esteemed" treatment for war veterans who were mostly men, while war victims and survivors did not receive appropriate reparation such as death, disability old age, healthcare or educational benefits.

The committee has since recommended that the Philippine government provide "full reparation," an official apology, and also provide material and moral damages for the "continuous discrimination" the victims suffered through the years, GMA News reported.

The CEDAW also recommended that an effective reparation scheme should be established to provide "all forms of redress" for war crimes victims, including those who suffered sexual violence and sexual slavery.

In 2020, NPR released a report that detailed the traumatic events that Filipina victims of war experienced during World War II.

One victim, who was 89 when the story was published, said she was only 12 years old when she was taken by Japanese imperial troops who used "abduction, coercion and deception to force women and girls to provide sexual gratification to military personnel."

Last month, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s agenda during his visit to Japan was not expected to include the plight of World War II slavery victims, as per PNA.

At the time, DFA Assistant Secretary Neal Imperial said the Marcos administration will not stop the victims if they pursue justice, but the government will not get involved as the Philippines already signed a reparations agreement with Japan.

Under the said Reparations Agreement, Japan would provide the Philippines with services and goods valued at $550 million.

Old woman
Representative image of an old woman. congerdesign/Pixabay