DFA vows probe into statue hon­orong 'com­fort women'

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MANILA -- Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano said Fri­day a fact-find­ing com­mit­tee has been formed to look into the mon­u­ment hon­or­ing Philip­pine “com­fort women” dur­ing World War II, and whether the in­stal­la­tion of the statue un­der­went proper pro­cesses.

“Pag (If it is) pub­lic prop­erty or open spa­ces, there are a lot of re­quire­ments from the Na­tional His­tor­i­cal In­sti­tute, from the DPWH (Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways), from the city. So one thing we are look­ing at is the process,” he said.

Cayetano de­clined to give de­tails on diplo­matic dis­cus­sions about the is­sue but said they pro­vided two main con­sid­er­a­tions -- the in­ter­est of the Filipino peo­ple and the main­te­nance of good re­la­tions with part­ners.

He said de­spite times when the Filipino in­ter­est “di­verges” in the in­ter­est of good re­la­tions with other states, the coun­try still “has to deal with the feel­ings of the peo­ple”.

“That’s the con­text of the DFA’s com­ments, pero wala pang fi­nal yung in­ter-agency. I think they are still in the stage of fact-find­ing -- who put it up, why did they put it up, where do they put it up, who got the per­mits,” Cayetano said, adding that the depart­ment was not con­sulted on its con­struc­tion.

“I be­lieve (that in) any­thing that af­fects in­ter­na­tional re­la­tion­ships, there should have been con­sul­ta­tions,” he added.

The “Com­fort Woman” statue was un­veiled in Manila last De­cem­ber.

In a let­ter dated Dec. 12, the DFA’s Of­fice of Asia and Pa­cific Af­fairs asked the city govern­ment of Manila for in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the cir­cum­stances that led to the erec­tion of the mon­u­ment.

The Manila City govern­ment replied days later, say­ing that the Tu­lay Foun­da­tion Inc. had sought their “sup­port and tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance on how and where to put up” the statue.

The marker on the mon­u­ment says it was in­stalled “in mem­ory of Filip­inas who were abused dur­ing the time of Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion in World War II”.

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