Another Filipino ‘comfort woman’ dies still seeking justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — Another Filipino “comfort woman,” who vigorously fought for justice for sexual slavery survivors of the Imperial Japanese Army until her twilight years, died over the weekend at 97 years old.

The organization Lila Pilipina said Hilaria Viray Bustamante passed away on Saturday, more than a week after a United Nations (UN) committee ruled that the Philippine government violated the rights of comfort women by failing to provide reparation, social support, and recognition to the harm they suffered during World War II.

According to the group, Bustamante was one of several plaintiffs who sued the Japanese government in 1993 at a Tokyo district court.

“The Japanese Supreme Court dismissed the case several years after, but Lola Hilaria continued in the fight for justice until her very old age,” Lila Pilipina wrote in a post on Monday.

“Rest now, Lola Hilaria. Your legacy of courage and resistance will live on,” it added.

A number of groups earlier called on the government to provide reparations to comfort women, saying “time is of the essence.”

“Baka hindi na tumagal ang mga lola. Nasa average na sila ng 90 years old,” said Virgie Suarez, one of the lawyers of the Malaya Lolas, another group of survivors.

[Translation: They may not last long, their average age is 90.]

A day after the UN panel released its report, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he would talk with congressional leaders on possible legislation to assist survivors.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the Philippine government recognizes the suffering of the victims, but noted that "some reparations have been made and the Supreme Court has adjudicated on the matter."

The PCO added that the government will study the "views" of the UN committee and submit a response within six months.

During his state visit to Japan in February, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not raise the issue of Filipino comfort women.