“Gusto niya i-uban sa kaso kadtong boyfriend. We could not, kasi wala gyud ebidensiya didto.”
— PNP Regional Director Debold Sinas, on the terms set by Lourdes Silawan, mother of 16-year-old murder victim Christine Silawan, for signing affidavit
IT COULD be the succession of suspects whom the police and NBI arrested, one after the other, that confused Lourdes Silawan, the mother of Christine Lee, 16, whose body with multiple stab wounds was found March 11 on a vacant lot in Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City.
First there was Jonas Bueno, arrested in Davao City for a “similar” crime in Danao City but later tagged as the prime suspect in the killing of Christine.
There followed the teenaged suspect, Christine’s former boyfriend, whom the NBI arrested and charged, placed in the city’s care center, released by the prosecutor for unlawful arrest, then coaxed to return to “protective” DSWD custody.
Then, the latest, Renato Llenes, a family man with five children, arrested in a buy-bust police operation, who confessed to the crime, saying he was conscience-struck and pitied the boy who was blamed for the murder.
Lourdes refused to sign an affidavit that would’ve gone with the charge sheet that was to be filed Friday, April 12. Her conditions for signing: (1) Christine’s ex-b.f. must be included in the complaint. (2) The charge should be murder with rape.
No reason was given for the conditions. She must see the b.f. as the villain, the monster who defaced her daughter after inflicting her with at least 30 stab wounds on the body, neck and hands and feet. She must have been convinced that the boy did it and he raped Christine, based on the NBI evidence and Public Attorney’s Office findings.
But the police, through PNP Region Chief Debold Sinas, said they (the police) have no evidence against the teenager, the PNP forensic expert saw no traces of rape and they believe Llenes’ confession.
In effect the police will rely on their own evidence and apparently will discard the NBI and PAO findings as far as they contradict their theory of the case. Even as each declares inter-agency cooperation, the PNP must have decided that its own investigation and forensic results will support Llenes’ confession and vice versa. They add up, “mukhang ito na,” as PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde put it.
Scrutiny on confession
The police case rests largely on Llenes’ confession. Thus they need to examine it thoroughly: whether his claims will match with other evidence on the ground as well as the PNP autopsy findings and whether he is not a crackpot or publicity hound. The plan to make him undergo polygraph and psychiatric test is part of the intensive scrutiny on the confession.
In deference to the other agencies, police may thresh out conflict in the separate probe results and see what can be used in the prosecution.
Internally, the PNP, NBI and PAO can “harmonize” findings and seek explanation for evidence that would seem to negate the police narrative. For example, how to explain the forensic “discrepancies,” such as the NBI’s match of the trace of blood on the boy’s shoe and Christine’s blood and PAO’s finding of fresh lacerations and bruises on her private parts.
The justice thing
What could frustrate the quest for justice would be each agency trying to protect its image by defending its findings, even if they could fit in with the theory of the other agencies.
PNP and NBI are gathering evidence for the prosecution. So is PAO whose lawyers, its chief said, will represent the victim’s mother in the prosecution. They are on the same side.
Is the mother getting the advice of PAO about her conditions for signing the affidavit? It may be reminded that justice is what evidence and law provide, not what the mother of the victim wants or what protects and boosts the public image of the government agency lawyering for her.