PALAWAN Governor Jose Alvarez expressed embarrassment and worry over the recent rape complaints by two Slovakian nationals against a boatman in El Nido.
“We don’t want this to happen again,” he said of the alleged rape on March 7 on Cadlao Island of Slovakians identified only as Martina, 26, and Kvena, 28.
The suspected rapist was identified as 30-year old boatman Romulo Arnosa, a resident of Sitio Cabigsing, Barangay Buena Suerte.
Shortly before the press conference, Alvarez presented one of the victims to the local media, who were requested not to take her video, her photos, and not to interview her.
According to a police spot report, the alleged rape of the two female tourists happened around 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on the beach of Cadlao.
“Nakakahiya, eh (It’s embarrassing). Then our tourism is on the upswing because Boracay, unfortunately, is on a downswing. And if these things continue, you know what will happen, so I am very worried. I even offered personal reimbursement of all expenses of these tourists who came here to testify. That is why we called this press conference this morning, just to make it very clear that we will not tolerate this kind of incident,” he said.
He said the rape cases involving foreigners in Palawan is a “provincial concern as it will make everyone suffer” the consequence of having a “bad image” abroad.
“Let us resolve this. In fact, I am offering all my facilities to help the victims in order to let them testify. I ask each and every one, let’s further cooperate and not allow this to happen again. If it happens again, let’s report immediately, and I am willing to assist,” said Alvarez.
A meeting with the tourist towns in the province will be scheduled to discuss with local officials what solutions can be undertaken to avoid rape incidents from happening, which can be detrimental to Palawan’s tourism industry.
He added the rape incident in El Nido is not the only report that has reached him. “There’s a rape attempt on a British girl in San Vicente, which I am going to pursue” for justice, he said.
Arnosa denied the charge during his presentation to the media, saying the Slovakians, who were drunk and naked outside their tents, were the ones who seduced him.
Not the first
Palawan legal counsel, lawyer Mary Joy Cascara, said cases for violation of Republic Act 8353 or The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 had been filed against Arnosa at the province’s Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Police Inspector Lodell Lota, chief of the El Nido Municipal Police Station, said the recent rape report was not the first in the town.
He said in January, an American citizen also filed a complaint that she was raped by a resident of El Nido. Before her, a Korean national was also raped. But the two rape cases were never filed in court as the victims had to leave immediately.
“The municipal police in El Nido is always after the protection of our guests in El Nido, especially the foreigners. We do not take rape reports or complaints lightly; we always make sure we deal with them as fast as we can,” Lota said.