Sally Crisostomo-Ujano, a child and women’s rights activist and coordinator of the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT), was arrested in Bulakan on November 14, 2021. The arrest was based on a 2006 arrest warrant issued by a court in Lucena City. According to the human rights group Karapatan, the plain-clothed police officers did not identify themselves during Ujano’s arrest. Ujano is being accused of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and of her involvement in the execution of suspected government spies. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), she went into hiding for 15 years to avoid arrest. The Child Rights Coalition (CRC), in its statement, debunks this claim: “Sally has always been in the public eye in the last three decades for her non-profit work on protecting the rights of women and children.” The CRC, as well as women’s rights groups Gabriela and Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, condemn Ujano’s unlawful arrest and call for her release.
That same month, November 25, 2021, marked the beginning of the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women. For improvement of emergency telephone support for victims, the Ministries of Justice, Social Affairs and Interior signed a memorandum of agreement on December 7, 2021. Previously, telephone operators of the nationwide and free 911 emergency number were trained to respond to cases of violence against women and children, as well as gender-based violence. On November 24, 2021, the Congress also approved a bill to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.
At the moment, the case of Apollo Quiboloy is occupying the Philippine media and judiciary. The pastor of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) was charged with sex trafficking in the United States. He could be extradited to the U.S. upon a request under a binational agreement. Quiboloy, longtime friend and supporter of Rodrigo Duterte, was also previously charged with rape, child abuse and ill-treatment in Davao City in 2020. Revision has been filed due to the dismissal of the case, which is being reviewed by the Department of Justice. Women’s rights organization Gabriela is calling for a full investigation into the activities of Quiboloy and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Rosalyn Echem of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in Zamboanga City says, “This issue is an old one, and stories about their activities have long been doing the rounds even in Zamboanga City. But no one has come forward. The same is happening even with other churches. It’s like we’re still in the Spanish colonial period when women were abused and exploited.”