Cebu village chief, widow of cop found dead

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Friday, May 24, 2013


CEBU CITY -- The barangay captain of Mabini, this city, allegedly killed his rumored paramour before shooting himself to death inside his vehicle a few hours after he had thrown her body off a cliff.

The body of the woman was dumped in a cliff in Barangay Cansumoroy, Balamban, which is in the mountain borders of Cebu City.

The link of Barangay Captain Rey Oybenes’s apparent suicide to the woman’s death came about when the descriptions of the man seen by witnesses dumping a woman’s body and the vehicle he drove fit those of the barangay captain’s.

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Police also found the identification papers of Johamma Luage, 32, in Oybenes’s pickup truck, a Hilux recently issued by the Cebu City Government to the barangay captains.

Police did not find identification documents on Luage when she was found. The woman bore a gunshot on her left chest.

Barangay Captain Rey Oybenes
Rey Oybenes, barangay captain of Mabini, Cebu City, is found dead with a gunshot in his chest inside a City Hall-issued vehicle in a city outskirt a few hours after he was seen dumping a woman in a cliff in Cansumoroy, a secluded mountainous barangay of the adjacent town of Balamban. (Alex Badayos photo)

At 2 p.m., a street cleaner assigned in Barangay Tigbao saw the pickup truck parked near the road and peeked into it. The cleaner saw its driver with a gun on his lap. The street cleaner wasn’t sure if the driver was alive or not.

Before he allegedly took his life, witnesses saw him at 1:10 p.m. in Sitio Buli, Cansumoroy, carrying a body wrapped in a coat. They knew it was a human body because the feet protruded from the coat.

The witnesses said Oybenes saw them and sensed that they knew what he was about to do. He put down what he was carrying and pretended to take a piss, then dragged the body into a grassy lot, then left in a huff aboard the gray Hilux pickup.

The witnesses -- the driver and passengers of a van-for-hire -- gave to the police the description of the man they saw dumping the body.

Description

Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO2) Arvie Banate of Balamban Police Station said they are looking at Oybenes as the suspect because the description and accounts the witnesses gave indicated it was the barangay captain.

The witnesses said they saw a rotund man in a red shirt carrying a body that was wrapped in a coat.

A brand-new grey Toyota Hi-Lux with a red plate parked beside the road was also seen.

The body where Luage was dumped is near the area where a bus carrying Iranian medical students, doctors, and their family members fell on July 13, 2010. At least 20 people died in the accident.

The van-for-hire that was heading towards Cebu City stopped by Barangay Gaas, Balamban to report to a police detachment camp what they saw.

PO2 Alcris Labrador of Regional Training School told reporters when police were informed of the incident, they saw the pickup truck zoom past them.

All nearby police stations in Cebu Province and Cebu City were alerted and they immediately conducted checkpoints.

Police chased the pickup truck but lost it near Ayala Heights in Sibugay and headed towards Sirao. Sibugay and Sirao are mountain barangays that border Cebu City and Balamban town.

Police said they were looking for a government-issued Hilux pickup only to find out later that Oybenes had removed the plate and changed it with one “for registration.”

As to Luage, it took time for her to be identified. She was wearing a mint green blouse and blue jeans, but covered in a dark blue coat of National Power Corp. with a name Neri A.D. on it.

The woman was fair-skinned, had dyed hair and was medium-built.

Identified

When the Crime Scene Investigation of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) arrived at the area, they didn’t recover any personal belonging from the victim.

“She had been divested of personal identification so there would be no trace,” Banate said.

The woman was identified after her family and relatives went to Balamban town to look for Luage. Her family could not account for her whereabouts.

Johamma Luage
The woman, who bore a gunshot in her chest was first reported as unidentified but was later revealed to be Johamma Luage, a widow of a policeman. Her ID cards were found inside Oybenes’ vehicle.  (Alex Badayos)

Police learned from those who knew Oybenes and Luage had an illicit relationship.

“Mao na ang gi-istorya sa pamilya,” he said.

Luage became a widow after her husband PO1 Noriel Luage was shot dead in a police operation in Barangay Zapatera, Cebu City in December 2007. They had three children.

She had worked in the office of Cebu City Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. and just before her death was assigned to the division for the welfare of urban poor (DWUP).

Less than an hour after police were alerted of Oybenes’s vehicle, a metro aide saw it in Tigbao.

Azucena Solon, 63, told Sun.Star Cebu that she was sweeping the street in front of Maryville Subdivision when she noticed a pickup truck parked for some time.

Curious, she peeked into it and saw the driver with a gun on his lap. She couldn’t clearly see what was happening inside the vehicle because it was heavily tinted.

Alarmed at the thought that something bad was to happen, Solon boarded a passenger jeepney and reported the incident to the Talamban Police Station.

When authorities arrived at the crime scene, the doors of the vehicle were locked.

Commotion

A brief commotion erupted when Oybenes’s family and relatives arrived past 6 p.m. and urged the police to open the vehicle in an attempt to save the barangay captain’s life.

“Ablihi intawon na ninyo. Basin buhi pa nako akong igsuon,” said Ramy Oybenes, the village chief’s 30-year-old brother.

In his anger, Ramy grabbed a rock and broke one of the vehicle’s right windows. An ambulance was called but Oybenes, who had a gunshot on his left chest, was already dead by then.

At 7 p.m., Jessebel Oybenes, the barangay captain’s wife, arrived from their house in Barangay Mabini and cried hysterically.

“Wa ko kasabot unsa akong buhaton karon,” she cried.

Reporters overheard the family talking that Luage was the one Oybenes was having a relationship with.

During the inspection, crime investigators found Luage’s identification cards inside the vehicle.

A .45 pistol with live bullets that Oybenes reportedly used was also inside it.

Oybenes was serving the remaining months of his three terms as barangay captain of Mabini, located 20 kilometers north from Cebu City Hall. He was a member of the Association of Barangay Councils.

Acting Mayor Joy Augustus Young and Councilors Pe and Michael Ralota asked the police to investigate the deaths. (With PDF/JGA/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2013.

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