POLICE have identified one of the suspects in the brutal slay of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan whom they described as “armed and dangerous.”
As this developed, the bounty on the perpetrators has now reached P1.8 million, of which P1.3 million comes from the government coffers while P500,000 from a private citizen.
Senior Superintendent Limuel Obon, chief of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, said a tracker team of the Special Investigation Task Group was already dispatched for hot pursuit operations against the suspect.
He did not say the killer was Silawan’s lover, but he said the man had communicated with the victim.
The culprit is older than Silawan, and he is not a resident of Lapu-Lapu City, he said.
Armed and dangerous
Obon said the suspect is “armed and dangerous,” has a pending warrant of arrest for murder and is one of the most wanted persons in Central Visayas.
Obon believes the suspect is still in Cebu although he was no longer in Lapu-Lapu City since Tuesday morning.
Obon said there is no shoot-to-kill order against the suspect. He said their main objective is to arrest the suspect so he can identify his cohorts.
They have checked the closed circuit television camera (CCTV) of an establishment near the spot where the culprit let Silawan ride a motorcycle.
He said the CCTV footage and the testimony of an eyewitness made the evidence strong against one of the perpetrators.
“I told my personnel that if he will fire upon you, you take cover... If you have to return fire, you target him in the extremities. We want him to face the public,” he said.
But he said if his men will be cornered, then they will have to defend themselves.
“That’s the only time that they will use lethal force, but my instruction was to catch him alive,” he said.
The autopsy result was out Wednesday morning.
Supt. Benjamin Lara, medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory (PNP Crime Lab), said Silawan’s tongue, esophagus and right ear had been removed.
Lara said it was possible that an animal ate these body parts, but he saw no bite marks.
It is also possible the killers took out the body parts to delay the identification of the victim and give the killers a chance to hide.
The officer added this is the first time he has encountered such a gruesome murder.
The killers had skinned Silawan’s face and stabbed her 30 times. There were 12 stab wounds in her lungs, seven in her right lung and five in her left lung. Another stab hit her liver. When her stomach was opened, it was already experiencing internal bleeding.
Lara said the suspects may be experts in cutting off or flaying body parts, considering how the crime was done with precision.
He said the culprits may have used a razor-sharp knife in skinning the victim, who was found half-naked on Monday, March 11, in Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City.
He said it is difficult to open the head of a corpse during an autopsy.
“This was really carefully and meticulously done,” Lara said.
Lara further said the tongue was possibly cut off by the culprits, adding that it cannot be easily removed from the mouth.
He said the killers knew what they were doing and they possibly used different blades in stabbing the victim because the wounds varied in sizes.
Silawan’s parents submitted blood samples for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) examination which will be submitted to Camp Crame’s crime laboratory. The results wil be known in two to three weeks.
P1.8 million bounty
Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza said she wants a speedy resolution of the case.
“Grabe gyud ang gibuhat (What they did was horrible),” she said.
She said the City will reward P1 million to a person whose information could lead to the arrest of Silawan’s killers.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said she would sponsor a resolution charging P200,000 to the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children (PCWC).
Magpale, who chairs the PCWC, said the Provincial Board (PB) cannot initiate an investigation since Lapu-Lapu City is a highly urbanized city.
“But it’s so heinous a crime that the PCWC decided to put up a bounty para pag-start lang (as a start). Kami sa PCWC nanghinaot na makatabang mi (We in PCWC hope that we can help),” Magpale said.
She will sponsor a resolution at the next PB regular session on Monday, March 18.
Earlier, the Police Regional Office 7 Regional Advisory Council offered a P100,000 bounty, and an American retiree Don Davis offered P500,000.
The bounty as of Wednesday has reached P1.8 million.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, for his part, asked authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and look into the possibility of a serial killer being the perpetrator behind the murder of Silawan.
“Very brutal. I hope the police will really do a thorough investigation on it and bring those responsible to justice. Luoy kaayo ang bata (We pity the child). This is very gruesome. Maybe there’s a connection there. Serial killing tingali ni ba. Possible there’s a connection there if same ang method sa killings,” he told reporters.
The PNP Crime Lab is investigating any similarities between the killings of Silawan and 60-year-old Trinidad Batucan, who was found with his face flayed and his heart removed on Jan. 11, 2019 in his residence in Danao City.
Obon urged the public not to spread fake news on social media about the identity of the suspect.
For her part, Radaza said netizens should not share the pictures of Silawan because they are hurting the victim’s family. (See story on page 4.)
The mayor urged the barangay officials to let their tanods patrol their respective villages to prevent crimes in the future.
She said the city’s tourism industry will not be affected by Silawan’s murder since it was an isolated incident.
Radaza did not comment on the calls for restoring the death penalty after the incident, saying she is leaving this up to the legislators. (From AYB and GCM of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL, RTF)