Teen allegedly raped by diplomat seeks DOJ's help
MANILA, Philippines - 'Pamela,' the 19-year old alleged rape victim of Panamanian Erick Bairnals Shcks went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, aided by women's party list Gabriela, to seek help.
She expressed dismay that the suspect cannot be charged criminally on the basis of his diplomatic immunity.
'Pamela' said the Panamanian government should cooperate with the Philippine government and allow Shcks to be brought to justice.
"Nakakalungkot kasi we expected na kung meron talagang face yung government na yun, we expected them to fight with us and not hide behind some technicality in the legal convention. It's very distressing," she said.
Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, however, told reporters the Panamanian, while a technical officer of the Panama Maritime Authority, does enjoy diplomatic immunity under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
De Lima further said Shcks may leave the Philippines anytime, and there is no legal basis to hold him here.
The justice chief, however, pointed out that he may be tried for the alleged rape once the Panamanian government waives his diplomatic immunity. She stressed, though, that the waiver is only voluntary.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has no record of Schks leaving the country since his last entry to the Philippines last Dec. 11, 2011.
"We were able to confirm with our readings and study of the pertinent provisions of the Vienna Convention... wala na kami (DOJ) magagawa," De Lima said.
DFA urged to waive immunity
For her part, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, said 'Pamela's' supporters are not about to give up and will continue to prod the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to secure a waiver of Schk's immunity from criminal suit.
Gabriela will also move for Schks to be declared persona non grata. Filing a civil case against the Panamanian is also an option, she said.
"That's one move to declare this Erick Schks persona non grata.. he can no longer come back to the Philippines and his career will be affected. We will also see if Congress can do something to revisit the Vienna Convention," Ilagan said.
The criminal information against Schks was dismissed by Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 57, and the Panamanian released from police custody, upon the court's receipt of the DFA certification.
The 19-year old alleged victim claimed that the rape occurred around 11 p.m. on April 23 in Shcks' place. She claimed the Panamanian national made her sniff marijuana, and then raped her.
Atty. DJ Jimenez, 'Pamela's' lawyer, said it's possible they will elevate their case to the Supreme Court and file a civil case against Schks.
Under the Vienna Convention, civil cases may be pursued against foreigners enjoying diplomatic immunity once the alleged offenses are committed outside the line of work, he said.