MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 March) — Two teen-age complainants have filed a complaint against a suspect they accused of allegedly raping them on separate incidents in January and February but lead counsel Oliver Owen Garcia told radio station DXBU there are possibly more victims out there so they are encouraging them to come out and file charges.
Garcia, a former Valencia city councilor and provincial board member, encouraged other possible victims not to fear. Joined by two lady lawyers in the case, including Ophelia Pilar Rubio, Garcia said “they will definitely pursue the case.”
The suspect Gene L. Diaz, a resident of Brgy. Violeta who was identified by one of the complainants, is facing charges of rape, cruelty to minors, and illegal possession of firearms before the sala of Regional Trial Court 10 Branch 8 Judge Dennis Alcantar.
Diaz, who was arrested around 9 p.m.on March 3 near the Caracol Building, has been detained since March 8 at the Malaybalay City Jail. Police Supt. Oscar Jacildo, city police chief told reporters a court decision was issued disallowing any bail for the suspect as his charges are heinous crimes.
In their affidavits, “Mia” and “Lily” (not their real names) identified Diaz as the one who tricked them into his car after asking some questions and eventually raped them inside. Diaz allegedly promised the girls allowances in exchange for future meetings and threatened them with death or embarrassment if they would report the incident.
“Mia,” who alleged she was raped on February 22 and who immediately filed a complaint even as she was not able to name the suspect as yet, was with friends and an uncle on March 3 when she recognized the suspect emerging from the building.
She immediately confronted him. After a verbal exchange, Diaz reportedly slapped “Mia” until responding policemen arrived. They were brought to the police station where “Mia” pointed to the suspect as the rapist.
“Lily,” another student, said she was raped barely a month earlier.
Support from various sectors
The case has drawn a public uproar and different sectors are supporting the victims who are afraid that the suspect, who belongs to a prominent family in Valencia City, might go scot-free.
The Malaybalay City government has expressed support in providing legal assistance to the victims. Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri said the city government is signing a memorandum of agreement with the FIDA, an association of local lady lawyers.
At a symposium Friday afternoon at Bukidnon State University, Dr. Reyna Amba, BSU high school principal assured the students that the university is 100 percent supporting the victims, providing them with lawyers and other support.
Amba appealed for consideration for the victims who have continued attending classes.
“Respect the victims in their silence. Treat them like your ordinary classmates. Be considerate, be kind,” she said.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s counsel, Isidro Caracol said the suspect has denied the allegations and appealed to the public not to pre-judge as the suspect also has a family.
“He is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he added. Caracol invoked Diaz’ right to remain silent, to obtain the services of the lawyer of his choice and other constitutional rights as an accused.
Caracol, however, cited the failure of the church, the school, and the community about the occurrence of rape and other crimes in the community and urged the media to focus on the good things instead.
Sr. Lydia Perejan, MCM, representing the religious sector among the groups supporting the victims, said there is a great need for different sectors to monitor the case. The groups were initially worried Diaz could obtain temporary freedom as he could post bail for the two other charges.
A BSU gender sensitivity advocate said preventive measures are still best for women who, she said, are prone to sexual assaults. She said Malaybalay’s crime rate has worsened over the years even if she admitted that the increase in crime volume is part of the “costs of development.”
BSU students held a campus indignation rally that ended in the symposium where women’s desk police officer Warlika Sadang gave an orientation on the protection of children and women in time for International Women’s Day on March 8.
Some students carried placards with messages such as “women deserve respect” and “stop women trafficking.” (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)