Groups urge gov't to convert 'Bahay na Pula' into museum

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 9) — The government must convert a run-down house in a former hacienda in Bulacan province where Japanese forces carried out mass rapes, into a museum, a group said Friday.

"Gawin nating museum ang Bahay na Pula, a shrine for our comfort women, to honor the victims," Teresita Ang See of coalition #Flowers4Lolas said during a forum.

See again criticized the government's removal of the controversial comfort woman statue in Manila in 2018 even as it allowed the establishment of kamikaze shrines.

"We removed the one and only comfort woman statue," she said, claiming that this was done after the Japanese government expressed disapproval of the statue.

The Philippines and Japan have solidified ties through the years after World War II, with Tokyo emerging as a top aid donor, extending assistance in a number of infrastructure and social development projects.

However, See said the Philippines must not bow down to the Japanese government.

A number of groups in the forum also said the Marcos administration should provide reparations to victims of sexual slavery during Japan's occupation of the Philippines, who are now in their twilight years.

"Time is of the essence. Please don't wait for six months, baka hindi na tumagal ang mga lolas. Nasa average na sila ng 90 years old (they may not last long, their average age is 90)," said Virgie Suarez, one of the lawyers of the Malaya Lolas.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said the country violated the rights of the victims "by failing to provide reparation, social support, and recognition."

READ: PH should implement UN decision on WWII comfort women lawyer

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he would talk with congressional leaders on possible legislation to assist the victims.