USM students demand justice for rape victim

Angelie (not her real name), a 17-year old Hotel and Restaurant Management student, claimed she was taken by force from her boarding house on the night of February 25 by a certain Bianca Montawal Paglas. They immediately boarded a red pick-up car together with two other persons one of whom was identified as Jerome.   

When they reached the university belt, Paglas reportedly took Angelie to one of the rooms at the Pareng Bong Lodging House. There the latter was allegedly raped by Datu Andy Montawal, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) and son of the mayor of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao.

Angelie also said the suspect ordered her to undress at gunpoint. She was also told to take some shabu, which she refused.

At around 11 p.m., she was then taken back to her boarding house. She related the incident to her board mates and then to her father.

Immediately, they went to the local police where they filed the complaint against Montawal and his alleged accomplices.

The next day, the documents were submitted to the North Cotabato Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Kidapawan City who assigned the case to its counterpart in Kabacan.

The prosecution has given Montawal and the three other accused 10 days to submit their counter-affidavits.

Montawal could not be reached to air his side. Unconfirmed reports said he went into hiding after learning about the complaint.

Angelie, her father, women's organizations and other support groups urged the local government officials in Kabacan to pressure the police to arrest the suspects once the warrants would be issued.

Angelie's father said the fight is not only for his daughter but also for the people of Kabacan who demand justice for other students who were also raped allegedly by the same perpetrator.

"While I cry justice for what had happened with my daughter,  I know that there are other victims of this heinous crime who have been killed or silenced or were paid huge sums of money just to keep their mouths shut," he said.

Angelie, according to municipal social worker Susan Macalipat, has already stopped schooling and is being placed in a safehouse.

Kabacan councilor Cedric Mantawil, chair of the municipal council's committee on peace and order, said they salute Angelie for taking up the cudgels.

"What she did was so heroic. She was not afraid. What she wants is justice. This is the reason why we're backing her in this case," said Mantawil, adding Angelie and her family have 'waged a battle' against somebody who is 'clothed' with powers and influence in the community.

Montawal, though already armed, is protected by a number of fully armed bodyguards, the councilor said.

He is also reportedly one of the five major drug suspects in Southwestern Mindanao who is under tight watch by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The PDEA, however, said no case has been filed against him and the four other suspects. (MindaNews)