KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/29 September) – Police arrested on Tuesday six of the 10 suspects who allegedly abducted and raped a 21-year old government nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao province.
South Upi town councilor Warlito Bansigan identified the suspects now placed under the custody of the local police as Glenn Saldoa, son of a retired employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Maguindanao; Eugene Biscara, son of a retired school teacher; Ruscom Sangclap; Michael Candelario; and Jeffrey Fernandez, all residents of the same town.
Authorities were hoping that Florence (not her real name) would soon recover so she could name the other suspects.
Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Colin Bagaforo has appealed to the families of the gang-rape suspects to voluntarily surrender their sons “in the name of justice”.
“Sa pangalan ng Diyos at ng Simbahan… Ito ay isang panawagan sa mga opisyal ng gubyerno na tulungan si Florence na maigawad sa kanya ang hustisya (In the name of God and the Church…this is a call to government officials to help Florence obtain justice),” Bagaforo said.
Friends and co-workers of the victim meanwhile urged media, police officers, and other individuals to cease from casting aspersions on Florence.
“Contrary to reports, Florence is not alcoholic. She does not smoke. We’re friends for so long and I’ve not seen her drink or smoke, especially in public places,” said a co-worker who requested anonymity.
Reports were rife that prior to the incident, Florence was seen with the suspects inside a videoke bar in Barangay Timanan, which is near a police outpost.
The victim was found naked and unconscious in a cornfield in Timanan on Sunday morning by some bystanders.
“I resent these people from casting aspersions on my friend. It’s rude… it’s not fair. We cry for justice here,” said another friend.
On Tuesday, hundreds of government health workers, led by Maguindanao’s provincial health officer, Dr Tahir Sulaik, staged an indignation rally in Cotabato City where they condemned the gang-rape and urged authorities to investigate the case.
Dr. Sulaik said they don’t want a whitewash on the case knowing that some of the suspects are scions of rich and influential families in Maguindanao. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)