Rebelyn, third of five children and the youngest daughter of Evangeline Maasin and Leoncio Pitao alias Parago, chief of the Pulang Bagani Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) was abducted at around 6:30 p.m. of March 4 in Bago Gallera, Talomo, Davao City while on her way home from St. Peter’s College, where she worked as substitute teacher. She was reported to have been herded into a parked white van some 300 meters from the highway, a block away from a Lutheran church.
The nearest house to the spot where her body was dumped in Purok 5 is a still unfinished concrete house.
Where she was abducted in Davao City and where she was found in San Isidro is a distance of 55.5 kilometers.
Where Rebelyn's body was dumped. Photo by Keith Bacongco/AKP Images
Across from where Rebelyn’s body was dumped, on the other side of the bigger irrigation canal in Barangay San Isidro, banana harvester Noel Lanoy told MindaNews on March 12 that he and his colleagues were loading bunches of bananas at the back of the truck between 3 to 4 p.m. on March 5 when they heard a scream.
“Naay gilabay, naay gi-salvage!” (A body has been dumped, summarily executed!), Lanoy recalled hearing the scream of farmer Raffy Agres. (Agres’ March 12 affidavit puts the time of his discovery at 5 p.m.)
The 32-year old farmer, whose house is about 400 meters from the road, had moved towards the canal to stop the flow of water into his farm, when he saw something afloat.
“Abi daw niya, bani sa saging” (he said he initially thought it was a banana trunk), says Lanoy.
Agres screamed when he realized it was the body of a woman.
The Dujali police took photographs of how Rebelyn looked when found in the National Irrigation Administration’s drainage canal: face down, her white blouse rolled above her chest, her brassiere still strapped, her lower parts exposed — underwear and pants gone. Copies of the photographs were shown to reporters at the Carmen police station. One photograph showed what the police said was her underwear and a panty-liner thrown on the roadside.
At the Villa Funeral Homes in Panabo City where Rebelyn’s remains were brought by the police, funeral parlor owner Arsenia Querequincia says they were instructed by the police not to touch the muddy body. Querequincia recalls Rebelyn’s mouth was covered with packing tape and she had her pants on but rolled down below the knee. Rebelyn’s body was transported from Villa to the Cosmpolitan Funeral Homes in Davao City nearly midnight of March 5.
Lanoy says they had been loading bunches of bananas at the back of the truck since morning of March 5 but did not notice the body floating on the shallow canal shaded by a cluster of ipil-ipil trees.
“There were tall grasses then and there was a mound of soil on the side of the road so we could not see the body from the road. The area has been cleared since,” he says.
Agres was not in his house when reporters visited Thursday, March 12 but his sister, Egles Brieta told MindaNews they heard nothi
ng unusual the night before the body was discovered.
“Mingaw man kayo diri basta gabii kay walay koryente” (It’s so quiet here at night because there is no electricity), she said.
Rebelyn’s body was not the first dumped in their area. In 2004, the bodies of two men were dumped nearby, in Purok 3, Egles said.
The investigation report signed by P03 Alan Adan, investigator, noted by Carmen police chief, Chief Inspector Jimmy Palomar, said Jaime Pascual, who lives “more or less 130 meters from the crime scene” told police during the ocular inspection that “at about 12:oo o’clock midnight of March 4, 2009, he heard his dogs barking towards the road. A thing which he considered very unusual.”
Analyn Villaflor Perez, 18, a resident of Purok 7, Dujali town, said in her affidavit dated March 12 that while standing in front of Nelson Store in Purok 7, “at about 12:30 o’clock a.m. of March 5, 2009, my attention was caught by colored white closed van coming from San Isidro, Carmen, Davao, and going to Sto. Tomas, Davao, direction that passed in front of me.”
Perez, however, did not see the persons on board the van and does not remember the plate number.
In his affidavit, Jujeeto Calatrava Matiniti, 30, a resident of Purok 1 in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, said that at around 1 a.m. of March 5, while he was in his vulcanizing shop in the same address, “my attention was caught by a colored white van coming from the municipality of B.E. Dujali, Davao, and upon reaching Crossing Feeder Road 1, Sto. Tomas, particularly in front of my vulcanizing shop, turned left and proceeded to Panabo directions.”
Matiniti added that the van “almost hit a single motorcycle running at the opposite lane” when it “suddenly turned left.”
He said he saw two persons on board the van but can’t remember the plate number. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)