Law prof doubts militiaman's admission he raped 'Florence'

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 October) — A prominent law practitioner and the College of Law dean of the University of the East (UE) said the admission of an ex-militiaman who owned up to the rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao is “suspect”.

“I hope the fiscal handling the case would examine the evidences thoroughly before clearing out the original suspects,” Justice Amado D. Valdez said.

He said it seemed that the admission was “intended merely to shake the strong evidence against the earlier suspects.”

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima is calling for a case conference with law enforcers here on the gang rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao after being ordered by the President to look closely into the case.

De Lima is also scheduled to visit Florence (not her real name), the victim of the September 25 gang rape case, who is confined in a Davao hospital.

Valdez, who was in a Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) press briefing on Thursday, said the former militiaman’s testimony is ‘suspect’ because of the presence of other “plausible suspects who were nearer to the scene of the crime.”

Eleanor Nolasco, chair of PNA’s public relations committee, said the group is demanding justice for the young volunteer nurse. She said they will not stop even if the alleged suspects of the heinous crime belong to influential families in South Upi, some of them related to local police officers and a politician.

She also called on the government to extend its protection to health workers serving difficult, remote communities.

Although Florence suffered from “neurological deficit because of the contusion in some parts of her brain,” physicians monitoring her condition said there are good chances she will recover.

“We will wait for her recovery because it will greatly help in the investigation,” Nolasco said.

She said this is not the first time that health workers are subjected to violence and harassment in the country, citing the case of the Morong 43, a group of professional health workers who volunteered their services to the poor communities but were arrested and detained upon suspicion that they belong to the communist-led New People’s Army.

“Nagbibigay ka na ng serbisyo, wala ka pang protection na makukuha (You’re already giving your services but you can’t even get protection),” she said.

Nawawala na ang respecto, ang dignity mo (You’ve lost respect and dignity) as a person,” (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)