Outrage over Rebelyn’s murder: "when wil this end?"

“This is another manifestation of the culture of death and the spiral of violence in our land. Life has not value in this land. The New People’s Army continues their protracted guerilla war and the military still uses the same tactics employed before by the dictator’s army. The same method is used by those in authorities in their so-called war against criminals. All these continue to happen under the present government. When will this end?” Picardal asked. 

Picardal was reacting to the  abduction and killing of Rebelyn Maasin Pitao, 20, daughter of  Leoncio Pitao alias Parago, of  the Pulang Bagani Command of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Rebelyn Maasin, Pitao. Dead at 20. MindaNews photo courtesy of Rene B. Lumawag, Pixels & Cutlines

Rebelyn was abducted early evening of Wedesday in Bago Galera this city and was found dead in an irrigation canal in San Isidro, Carmen, Davao del Norte the next day, bearing torture marks. Her mother Evangeline, said her daughter was tortured, raped and stabbed to death. Rebelyn had five stab wounds from an ice pick, her eyes were blindfolded using a packing tape and hit with a blunt instrument, she was strangled, 

“This is horrible,” Picardal wrote.

“Rebelyn’s mother blamed the military intelligence group for the dastardly act. I tend to believe her. Who else would try to kill the rebel leader’s daughter?” Picardal said.

In response to Evangelines’ allegation that the perpetrators were members of a  “military intelligence group,” Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command told MindaNews, “we are cooperating with the Philippine National Police in their investigation. We are also having our own investigation.”

Carlos Isagani Zarate of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) said “only an organized group could have carried out the abduction.” He noted how it “happened with military precision.”

Zarate said Rebelyn’s case has sent a chilling message, especially to those who are merely exercising their right to dissent, that “if we cannot hit you, we will hit your kin.”

 “We are degenerating into the dirtiest kind of war, where the rules of
war are not applied,” he said.

Zarate called on Dabawenyos to “express their outrage.”

The issue, he said, is not that Rebelyn is the daughter of  Parago but that what happened to her is “outrageous, barbaric.”

Radio stations polled listeners for reactions. Many opined that  Rebelyn, a teacher at the St. Peter’s College in Toril, should have been spared but other callers also phoned or sent text messages to say she was killed because “her father killed innocents like her.” Others expressed fears Rebelyn’s case would set a precedent.

Gail Ilagan, MindaNews columnist who teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University, says the events of Rebelyn’s abduction “suggest that she was specifically targeted.”

Rebelyn’s injuries suggest she was objectivated with deliberate violence. Like painting a picture trying for the most impact on the target audience.”

“This looks like an isolated case and does not indicate to be the signal that the young women in Davao City ought to start rethinking how they live their lives. The events of her abduction suggest that she was specifically targeted. Let’s caution against panic and unwarranted speculation. While the authorities are directing efforts at solving this case and giving justice to her untimely end, let us enjoin those who have information to cooperate. Meanwhile, if we know of anybody in our community or workplace who has security threats similar to Rebelyn Pitao’s and that of her family, be a good neighbor and help to protect each other. Open communication lines with 911, police, CVO, put their numbers on the speed dial on your phone,” Ilagan said.

Rebelyn’s abduction came in the run-up to the March 8 International Women’s Day and the  March 16 Araw ng Dabaw celebration and just hours after Duterte announced at the 6th anniversary rites of the Davao airport bombing,  that as mayor, “what we intend to do is to prevent crimes …from happening.”

The Commission on Human Rights is coming to the city at the end of the month to conduct a public hearing on the summary executions.

About three hours before Rebelyn’s abduction, Duterte told reporters gathered at the old Davao airport for the 6th anniversary rites onMarch 4, that he made a vow when he first assumed as mayor in 1988. “ I said that I will make the city as peaceful as it can ever be. I do not deal with day to day crimes. It is not true that we are killing innocent children…But for those high profile crimes. … para malaman ng lahat (for everyone to know), if you traffic drugs, if you are into terrorism, if you go about plunder the people, killing them for no reason at all, you know, let us cut the crap. I intend to do what I set out to do. And if you are into this category, malaman na ng president (let the President know), Human Rights, and whoever would want to listen, you are always in my book, a legitimate target for assassination.”

On February 9, the City Council’s Committee on Human Rights and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City chapter organized a multi-sectoral dialogue on the summary killings.

It was in that dialogue where the IBP reported 813 victims of summary killings from 1998. In January 2009 alone, 33 persons had been reported killed.

On February 24, Archbishop Fernando Capalla issued an “oratio imperata” (obligatory prayer) for the city’s healing “in view of the unabated series of summary killings here.”

The “oratio” mandates Catholics to recite the prayer “on bended knees” after the Holy Communion, for one year starting  February 25, in all the daily and Sunday masses in the archdiocese. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)