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Monday, March 25, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: Christine, possibly, was doused with acid; face-skinning and sex assault, both not yet confirmed by forensics, help fuel outrage over Lapu-Lapu crime; rape not ruled out for now

CEBU. Superintendent Benjamin Lara, PNP Crime Laboratory medico-legal officer, and the scene of the crime in Lapu-Lapu City. (SunStar File)

PEOPLE are talking about...

* GROPING LAWYER. A lawyer who allegedly groped a woman on the leg was able to persuade her on an "amicable settlement" before the Capitol Site, Cebu City barangay "lupon." But some of the conditions in the agreement were not met and the woman would like to pursue her complaint. The complaint reportedly was downgraded from act of lasciviousness to unjust vexation. When the lawyer touched the woman's leg, he probably had no lustful thought.

* ARCHBISHOP VILLEGAS'S VIDEO. Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas's video contained clips of President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against God and criticisms of the church. Villegas, referring to the betrayal of Christ by a kiss, asked, "The Lord said, 'Are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?' My dear brothers and sisters, are you going to betray God, are you going to deny your faith, by your vote?" He did not say vote for the opposition. He did not mention Otso Diretso. But the clips, the setting in which his message was made, suggest that his "brothers and sisters" not vote for the president's candidates. Still. the message was distorted, from oblique endorsement to a direct and specific one.

Initial assumptions

Many people, including those in the police and media, have assumed 16-year-old Christine Silawan, whose body with a disfigured face and multiple stab wounds was found last March 11 in Lapu-Lapu City, was:

* Gang-raped by three men who took her to a vacant lot in Barangay Bangkal in that city;

* Face-skinned by a member of the group who had some skill in butchering or using a sharp knife or scalpel.

Superintendent Benjamin Lara, regional chief of the PNP medico-legal office, Wednesday morning (March 13) seemed to slow down the rush to judgment.

Finding of old wound

Lara told dyMF Bombo Radyo that Christine had an old, healed laceration in her vagina, which indicated a blunt instrument had penetrated her; no fresh laceration. Lara was careful not to cite "sexual contact" as cause of the laceration: it was "trauma" which could be inflicted by anything, not necessarily someone else's sex organ.

What did that mean? The sex contact that night, if there was, could be consensual or forced. The initial medico-legal finding merely showed she had penetration before, which was not necessarily sexual.

A DNA test will be made, Lara said, using fluid from Christine's sex organ and body material from her parents. That could show, he said, whether there was sexual contact between Christine and her killers. The bruises and injuries on some parts of the body might show she resisted the sex -- or the stabbing after sex.

Varied reports

A Freeman report said Lara disclosed that Christine's tongue, esophagus and trachea were missing. Dogs and other animals could not have done it; the chances are slim, he said at an afternoon news briefing. He did not mention it in the Bombo morning interview. Also, the Freeman story said the police doctor "debunked" the rape theory. In the dyMF interview, he merely said Christine had a healed laceration in her sex organ, which indicated previous penetration before that night but wouldn't rule out rape.

On the face-skinning theory, Lara also carefully noted that it was possible that some "corrosive substance," maybe acid, could've caused the disfigurement and removal of Christine's skin.

More tests

Apparently, the PNP regional medico-legal chief needs more tests, to be done in Manila, before a definitive conclusion can be made. The DNA tests, Lara said, could take two weeks or so.

The face-skinning aspect of the murder as well as the possible gang-rape has helped fuel the outrage over the crime. Information from the suspects, once they are arrested, may help cast light on the still murky areas of the investigation.

***

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