De Lima: the real culprit may still be at large

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 October) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has instructed police investigators to focus not only on the ex-militiaman who owned up to the rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao on September 25 because “the real culprit may still be at large.”

De Lima also told reporters Friday night at the hospital here where nurse “Florence” (not her real name) was brought for further treatment, that she is inclined to clear the six accused of the gang rape because of the testimony of the fellow nurses that “they are not involved.”

“‘I think they’re not involved, I think they’re innocent,” De Lima told reporters, referring to the six suspects earlier arrested by the police for the September 25 gang rape. Police arrested the six before a former militiaman came out on October 5, admitting the crime.

”I’m inclined to order the dropping of the case against the six guys because according to the statement of the other nurses, hindi naman umalis (they did not leave the place) except for one na nalasing na at nagutom (who got drunk and hungry),” De Lima said.

She also said the profile of the six suspects showed no one among them belonged to an influential family.

Earlier, Justice Amado Galvez told Davao reporters one of the alleged six suspects had admitted he owned some personal belongings found on the scene of the crime. ”They have to evaluate everything closely first before clearing out the six suspects because of the strong evidences linking some of them to the crime,” Galvez said in a Thursday press briefing organized by the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) in Davao City.

De Lima said the police has been focusing on Melchor Fulgencio, the former member of the Civilian Auxillary Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), as the prime suspect after the latter came out with a statement admitting he and a certain accomplice named Edwin were guilty of the crime. ”They’re concentrating on Fulgencio, the one who executed an extrajudicial statement on October 5,” De Lima said. ”But that has to be verified thoroughly because he was saying he had a co-perpetrator and this co-perpetrator could not be traced.”

”He can’t be traced, he can’t be located, we don’t know if he really exists and if he does, maybe he’s just using an ‘alias,”’ said De Lima, referring to the accomplice identified merely as ‘Edwin.’

She said police should also explore other angles aside from Fulgencio, including the possibility that a politician’s son was involved. The politician’s son has not been listed as a suspect.

”If it’s not (Melchor) Fulgencio, then, that means that the real culprit is still at large,” she said. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)