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‘Criminal Minds,’ Cebu version

April 15, 2019

MARIT STINUS-CABUGON

WHILE killings have increased in number in Cebu and seldom generate much reaction from the public, some recent murder cases have shocked normally indifferent citizens: First, the brutal slaying and “skinning” of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan in Lapu Lapu City in March, and on April 9, the discovery of the lifeless body of 14-year-old Thesa Mae Ygay in the septic tank of a school in Danao City. The suspect in the killing of Ygay surrendered to authorities a few days ago.

In the case of Silawan, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Public Attorney’s Office have been involved in solving the case. Unfortunately, the three agencies have come up with different, competing and conflicting findings, creating doubt as to whether justice will indeed be served. The PNP and NBI both claim to have hard evidence pinning down their respective suspects – self-confessed killer Renato Llenes presented to the public by Police Director General Oscar Albayalde; and a former boyfriend arrested by the NBI. Both agencies claim that CCTV footages show that their respective suspects were the last persons to be seen with the victim. However, the PNP, unlike the NBI, reportedly has a clear footage showing the victim with their suspect. The NBI claims to have found Silawan’s blood on the shoes of their suspect while the PNP has a confession from Llenes.

The PNP crime laboratory’s autopsy showed that Silawan had not been raped – a finding contradicted by PAO’s Dr. Erwin Erfe of Dengvaxia fame. Erfe insists that Silawan was raped. And because of this, Silawan’s mother now demands that rape be included in the charge sheet against Llenes. She also wants her daughter’s former boyfriend charged together with Llenes. The police cannot oblige her on these demands as they have no evidence to support the filing of rape charges or the inclusion of the former boyfriend. Based on Llenes’ confession, he committed the crime alone. However, the police may file a separate charge for attempted rape against Llenes. Absent Silawan’s affidavit, the case against Llenes hasn’t been filed yet but will be next week.

Doubts have been raised regarding Llenes and his confession. His narration of how he committed the crime sounded scripted to some. Whatever details he revealed could have been provided to him by the police, it is said. Llenes is on the drug watch list of the Lapu Lapu City Police Office but apparently hadn’t been a target of the LCPO’s numerous anti-drug operations. He claimed to have been high on drugs when he allegedly murdered Silawan.

The police found Llenes in possession of a caliber .45 gun when they picked him up for questioning. He was an early suspect in the case – but so was Silawan’s former boyfriend. “We were supposed to arrest him (the former boyfriend) but we were told that the NBI got to him first,” Lapu Lapu City Police Office Director Lemuel Obon was quoted by The Freeman newspaper on March 20, 2019. However, on April 13, the same paper reported that Obon “admitted … that they were ‘demoralized’ when the NBI arrested the 17-year-old boy because the boy was not even in the police radar as a suspect.”

These inconsistencies are of course inconsequential if it is indeed Silawan’s killer, and not some random guy, who is being charged with the crime. A reliable source told me that considering Llenes’ history of pursuing minors, his online relationship with Silawan, his behavior after her death and the evidence gathered by the police, the case looks watertight.

Just as the police announced that the Silawan murder case had been solved, another heinous crime was committed in Cebu City, claiming the lives of two young people and wounding two others. John Michael Hermoso, 29, and Kis Ramos, 21, were shot dead by an unidentified gunman at The Good Cup Coffee Company. Two other employees were shot but survived. Hermoso was a managing partner of the company while Ramos was a cashier, a working student who would have been graduating from her psychology course at University of the Philippines Cebu in June. Hermoso was the 2019 Philippine Brewers Cup champion and set to represent the country at the World Barista Championship and the World Brewers Cup in the US. In the competition’s Q&A posted on the World Coffee Event’s website, Hermoso revealed his love for “shoes, music, tattoos and, most of all, coffee.” He saw himself “roasting lovely coffees in my shop” in the years to come. To the question “what are your interests outside of coffee?” the 29-year-old simply answered “Hmmm… shoes, tattoos, travel, nature. I mean that’s called life.”

That life ended abruptly. The bloody attack is another example of how easy and common the taking of life has become in Cebu.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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