FINALLY, the police have already filed rape and homicide cases against four (not three as earlier announced) suspects in the brutal rape and killing of a 28-year-old woman architect resident of Calinan, Davao City. The filing of the cases was done last Monday, June 5.
In our column yesterday, we expressed elation with the announcement by no less than Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Col. Alberto Lupaz that, indeed, they have already identified at least three suspects and were just finalizing the documents needed to have air-tight cases against the alleged criminals.
But in the same column, we also asked whether the suspects are already in police custody. Our reason for asking is that filing cases against anyone or some people who are still at large is wanting in effectiveness and significance if the issue addressed, aside from punishing the perpetrator, is that of responding to the call for justice of the family, relatives, and friends of the rape and slay victim.
Last Monday, when the head of the Special Investigating Task Group (SITG) Bragas announced in a press conference the names of the suspects, it turned out that one of them (Dennis Pansan) was already dead, another, a certain Espinosa, was the one reported abducted in Barangay Lacson, the other one could be the person who was picked up in what was reported by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as a buy-bust operation in his own residence. The fourth suspect charged, who is still unidentified, is still at large, according to Colonel Lupaz.
In the case of Pansan and Espinosa, the police strongly denied they had any participation in their abduction. Since Pansan allegedly died on the way to the hospital to treat his serious injuries, what will that make of the case against him? Pansan was rescued in Matina Pangi after he escaped from his abductors, who he claimed tortured him, and wrapped his head and face with masking tape.
He was found near the residence of one Rodrigo Cadungog in Matina Pangi, gasping for breath and dehydrated. Cadungog then brought Pansan to the barangay captain of the place, who then turned him over to the Talomo police.
Suspect Espinosa, on the other hand, was reported abducted by persons claiming they were from the “authorities” days back after the body of Bragas was found dumped in a banana plantation canal in Dacudao, Calinan. He has not surfaced since then. In other words, chances are, he could also be dead by now.
Again, who will the police prosecute when the suspect is dead or nowhere to be accounted for?
But what intrigued us is that the police did not disclose whether the Ombac tricycle used by the perpetrators has already been found. Neither did they identify the owner of the vehicle. Where is the tricycle now?
Is not the vehicle important material evidence in seeing through the effective prosecution of suspects in a crime? We are looking forward to the police making such an announcement on the ownership of the vehicle and its whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the man who helped the late suspect Dennis Pansan, who was reported “missing” during the weekend, suddenly surfaced last Monday. He claimed he was not abducted but admitted having gone to New Bataan to hide from some menacing persons he feared to be casing his residence.
We could understand the police if they manifest their disgust over the immediate assumption of some people, media men included, that Cadungog was abducted. They know that in such incidents, the eyes of the public are immediately on them. On this aspect, we commiserate with the police.
But we think some of the attributions could be true as it could be one strategy by the law enforcers to dodge charges of illegal detention of arrested suspects if they cannot file the appropriate charges within the period prescribed by law. Otherwise, they must let go of the suspect/s who could escape upon release.
This is one scheme for the police to make hard decisions similar to making a choice “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
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