Lugar Lang | Pepsi Paloma on the right to be forgotten

Receiving thousands of notifications out here in the afterlife lately, thanks to Tito Sotto and his quest to erase certain articles online about his role in the crimes committed against me. It’s not that I am actually resting in peace after all these years. How could I lie in eternal repose without justice? It has been more like eternal unrest and agitation since 1985 when I supposedly committed suicide before my 18th birthday.

Tito Sen claims that the online existence of the articles describing him as instrumental to my forced signing of the Affidavit of Desistance continues to “negatively affect” his reputation. The fact is none of them suffered any real consequences after the crime. My rapists, Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, and Richie D’Horsie continued to appear in their noontime television show, which is still airing to this day, and went on to make more money as comedians.

In fact, Vic Sotto has gone on to become the blockbuster star of a family movie enterprise as Enteng Kabisote, which rakes in millions at the box office each time it runs during the Christmas season. How can the audience laugh at the antics of these monsters who had drugged and gang-raped me when I was 14 years old?

And what effect has the crime against me had on Tito Sotto? Hasn’t he become a senator even though he is a buffoon and a plagiarist? And has even become the Senate President, a position from which he has “requested” the Inquirer to remove the articles, using the official stationery, in a clear display of newly acquired power.

My rapists apologized on bended knees on national TV, saying, “We hope that you do not allow the error we have committed against you to stand as a stumbling block to that future which we all look forward to.” I was 14 years old, gang-raped by these three men, and they call it an error. I did not forgive them then and I do not forgive them now. What future did I have to look forward to after that crime for which they did not pay? I signed the affidavit of desistance because I had been abducted by the “enforcer” of the Castelo/Sotto family and God knows what happened in my captivity. Later, Tito Sotto placed a gun on the table when he coerced me into signing it. Think of yourself when you were 14 and imagine what that is like.

Part of me thinks nobody came to my defense because the country was under Martial Law. Human rights were being violated constantly and everyone lived in terror, except those who were in power. No one called for an independent investigation of my death at that time. But maybe no one helped me because I was a sexy star, routinely appearing in ‘bold’ films. How could I have been raped? At that time, the Revised Penal Code defined rape as a crime against chastity, and surely I could not have been a chaste woman, given my job.

But I was raped. I did not give my consent because I was drugged. And in case you missed it, I was 14 years old. Am glad that the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 has corrected this grave injustice by defining rape as a crime against a person, committed “By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: a) Through force, threat, or intimidation; b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority.”

If I had been alive at that time, maybe I could have filed the case against the three of them belatedly. It would have still been within the period of prescription. And I would have been 29 years old, more able to stand my ground against my rapists and those who protected them. But I did not have that chance. Did I surrender it by killing myself? How could I have hanged myself inside a closet? And why?

Meanwhile, Senator Koko Pimentel supports Tito Sotto’s request for the removal of the articles, citing the “Right to Forget.” It’s actually the “Right to Be Forgotten,” which is a ruling enforced in 2014 in the European Union to erase “irrelevant and outdated data” online on request. But it is not the right to erase criminal records or rewrite history. The court has explained that the data is not actually erased, it is merely “delisted,” such that the item will not appear in search results. And it only refers to data that has been proven to be inaccurate as well as “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant, or excessive.” Moreover, the ruling exempts media outlets from such requests.

I am not irrelevant. Maybe I cannot have justice anymore for the crimes against me, but condemning me to oblivion is a bigger crime. Remember me, Pepsi Paloma, born Delia Duenas Smith. Protect my right to be remembered. Never forget.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

Posted in Opinion