Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the government should provide support to Filipino women who suffered sexual abuse by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II even as he acknowledged that the Japanese government has already made reparations the equivalent of $29 billion today.
Salceda said for context, Japan has paid an equivalent of 8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1956 to the Philippines in cash and goods as reparations, and another 3.5 percent of GDP in concessional loans.
“This, in today’s terms, would be equivalent to $29 billion in reparations – which significantly exceeds the country’s $22 billion infrastructure budget this year,” he said.
“With that amount, we could have rebuilt much of our war-damaged economic sectors and provided support to victims of war when it was still timely to do so. We were the largest recipient of Japanese reparations. We clearly squandered our opportunity – and also failed to fully acknowledge the wrongs committed by the Japanese in the Philippines,” he added.
Salceda, however, said it is late, but never too late, to correct a historical injustice such as this.
“It will not cost the government too much to rectify a historic wrong by providing the necessary support to these survivors and their descendants. Around 1,000 women were enslaved as comfort women during the Second World War,” he said.
“Still, I wouldn’t call it reparations — after all, the sin of
commission still lies with abusers. But it should be a genuine attempt to rectify a historic wrong. I do not think it will hurt our relations with Japan, for that country has since changed its relationship with us to one of sincere cooperation — as our largest trade partner, source of foreign investment, source of foreign aid, and one of our closest allies,” he said.
Malacañang earlier refuted the claim of a United Nations panel that the Philippines has failed to provide reparations for the Filipina victims.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said “some reparations have been made and the Supreme Court has adjudicated on the matter.”
The PCO said the government will study the views of the UN women’s rights committee and submit a written response within six months, as provided for under the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW.
The CEDAW issued on March 8, the International Women’s Day, its decision on the complaint filed by 24 members of Malaya Lolas, a non-profit organization that supports sexual slavery survivors, or known as comfort women.
“The Committee (CEDAW) requested that the Philippines provide the victims full reparation, including material compensation and an official apology for the continuing discrimination,” the UN said.
Malaya Lolas had “consistently raised their claims at the domestic level, requesting that the government of the Philippines espouse their claims and their right to reparations against the government of Japan” but claimed that their efforts, however, “were dismissed by the authorities.”
In 1956, Manila and Tokyo signed a reparation agreement, under which Japan would provide the country with services and goods valued at the equivalent of $550 million.