DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 February) – After almost two years, nothing has come out of the investigation into the death of Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of New People’s Army leader Leoncio Pitao, with the police citing lack of witnesses as the primary reason.
But regional police spokesperson Superintendent Querubin Manalang clarified today that the case has not been closed, saying the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has been trying to find other witnesses aside from the two persons who surfaced weeks after the killing of Pitao.
On March 4, 2009, the 20-year old Pitao, a teacher, was abducted on her way home in Barangay Bago in Davao City. The following day, her half-naked body was found in an irrigation ditch in Barangay (village) San Isidro in Carmen, Davao Del Norte, about 50 kilometers north of Davao City.
Manalang said that weeks after the killing of Pitao, Danny Pelicano, the tricycle driver who ferried Pitao surfaced and gave his testimony to the police.
Aside from the driver, Pitao’s fellow passenger identified as Dina Talaboc also testified.
“But both of them failed to identify the suspects, whom Commander Parago identified. We also included the photos of the military agents but the driver and passenger also failed to identify them. But it is not conclusive,” Manalang said over the phone.
The police official theorized that the witnesses are afraid to come out due to the nature of the case. “The two witnesses seem to have disappeared, we have no information now on their whereabouts,” he said.
Hanimay Suazo, acting deputy secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, also acknowledged that the lack of witnesses has bogged down the investigation.
She disclosed that the Pitao family is still in hiding because unidentified men are still tailing them. “They are still harassed,” she said.
Manalang confirmed reports that unidentified men have been tailing the Pitaos.
He added the police in 2009 offered them security but that the family rejected the offer.
“The Davao City Police Office visited them once in their residence in Bago. But when they returned days later, they were no longer around,” Manalang said. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)