Senate to probe Panamanian's rape case

Posted at 05/09/12 12:23 AM

Senators outraged by Panamanian's immunity from rape case

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate will investigate the case of a Panamanian accused of raping a Filipina teenager.

Senators asserted on Monday that the suspect should not enjoy immunity from prosecution.

The lawmakers are outraged that the Panamanian accused of raping a 19-year-old Filipina last April 21 has been released from jail.

The suspect, 35-year-old Erick Shcks, is not even an ambassador but a technical officer of the Panamanian Maritime Authority.

He faces a rape case at a Makati Court but was set free after the Department of Foreign Affairs director for immunities and privileges issued a certification that he has diplomatic immunity.

In a privilege speech, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto called on the Foreign Relations Committee to investigate the matter.

"This is about the crime of rape. It is not a small matter. Are we so helpless or too kind to foreigners in grievous matters such as these? They say that diplomats enjoy certain privileges and immunities. Is rape a privilege to enjoy?" Sotto said.

An angry Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile supports an investigation.

"We better look into this. My God! Raping a Filipina, even if he's a diplomat, at least should be haled to court and answer for it. There's no privilege on this," Enrile said.

The DFA says it will cooperate.

The DFA admitted that Shcks enjoys immunity from arrest, detention, and crinimal jurisdiction under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

However, it has asked the Panamanian government to waive his immunity so he can face trial in Manila.

"To protect the rights of the alleged victim, the DFA has asked the Panamanian government to waive Mr. Shcks' immunity so he can face trial in Manila," said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez. - ANC