Passion killing eyed in deaths of Cebu village chief, widow

CEBU CITY -- The same type of bullet pierced the chest of Mabini Barangay Captain Rey Oybenes and Rohamma Luage and the shot killed both.

The bullet was fired from a .45 pistol.

The autopsy on Oybenes showed that the bullet hit his left chest and exited his back, while that on Luage revealed that the bullet hit her heart and went to her spinal column.

The autopsies were conducted by Dr. Nestor Sator, medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Crime Laboratory.

But whether the bullets came from the firearm found with Oybenes inside his vehicle has yet to be ascertained pending results of the cross-matching.

Oybenes and Luage also underwent posthumous paraffin tests to find out if they had fired a gun. Results of the paraffin tests were not ready as of press time.

Luage was found dead past noon of Thursday with a gunshot in her left chest, in a ravine in Cansumoroy, Balamban. She had no identification papers with her but her handbag was found inside a government-issued Toyota Hilux pickup truck that Oybenes drove.

A few hours later and several kilometers away from Cansumoroy, Oybenes was found dead inside the pickup, also with a gunshot in his left chest. A .45 pistol was on his lap.

Oybenes was a suspect in the death of Luage. Witnesses had seen a man whose description fit Oybenes dumping a human body in Cansumoroy, a mountainous area.

The desk of Rohamma Luage at the division for the welfare of urban poor (DWUP) is laden with flowers and condolence notes. The roses wrapped in plastic were said to have been given to Luage by Mabini Barangay Captain Rey Oybenes last Thursday and bore a card that said “I love you, goodbye.” (Ruel Rosello)

The two were rumored to have kept an affair. Oybenes, 38, was married.

Luage, 32, was a widow of a policeman who was shot while responding to a crime in 2007. She worked at the division for the welfare of urban poor (DWUP) of the Cebu City Government.

Accounts given to Sun.Star Cebu by various sources said the two had kept an affair for five years and that Luage had ended the it last February because she could no longer bear Oybenes’s violent tendencies. Oybenes had been trying to woo her back.

Oybenes’s family said, however, that Oybenes and Luage were business partners, not lovers.

They said the two had run a money-lending business and had been arguing over it.

Acting Director Mariano Natuel Jr. of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said the police have yet to ascertain whether Oybenes had shot Luage intentionally or accidentally.

Natuel visited on Friday Oybenes’s wife Jecebel in the couple’s house in Mabini, a hilly barangay in the northern part of Cebu City.

The wake of Oybenes is held in Mabini where he was village chief for nine years.

Natuel said Jecebel was shocked at the events concerning her husband. She had told Natuel that they did not have a problem as a couple. The Oybeneses have a 10-year-old son.

Meanwhile, family and friends of Luage said that the barangay captain had tried several times to reconcile with the widow.

He would send her flowers and visit her at her place, a public condominium unit on Natalio Bacalso Ave. that she got on the benevolence of the Cebu City Government after her policeman-husband died on duty. The Luages have three children.

Edna Adaptar, Luage’s sister, told reporters Friday that Oybenes sent threatening text messages to Luage before they died.

u201cPuslan man nga imo kong buwagan, maayo pa og mamatay nalang tang duha (Since you have broken up with me, we might as well die),” Adaptar recalled one text message Oybenes had sent her sister.

Oybenes and Luage had dinner last Tuesday and he gave her flowers with a card that said “I love you, goodbye.”

On Wednesday, Oybenes was seen waiting outside Luage’s place.

On Thursday, Oybenes waited for Luage in the pickup truck as early as 7 a.m. outside the condominium.

Luage did not want to intend to ride with him, but her eight-year-old son, seeing the vehicle, got in. Luage was left without a choice but to get in the pickup truck as well.

They dropped off her son and their housemaid at a school near the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Adaptar said this was the last time her sister was seen.

Luage did not report for work that day.

She was next seen dead, wrapped in a coat, in a ravine in Cansumoroy, Balamban. She was first reported as an unidentified woman who had been shot.

Adaptar told reporters that Oybenes had asked her to persuade her sister to reconcile with him. He had told her that he couldn’t bear to lose Luage.

The sisters are from Pagadian City, Zamboanga Del Sur.

Jonalyn Burlaos, Luage’s officemate, told Sun.Star Cebu that she had known about the affair because the widow would confide to her.

She said Oybenes frequently visited the DWUP office.

Meanwhile, the family of Oybenes denied that the barangay captain and the widow had an illicit affair and said they were business partners.

Memie Oybenes, the barangay captain’s elder sister, said they suspected the two argued over money in their money-lending business.

A relative comforts Jecebel Oybenes (seated), widow of Mabini Barangay Captain Rey Oybenes, who allegedly killed a woman before shooting himself. Rey’s wake is held at the barangay sports complex. (Arni Aclao)

Jecebel Oybenes, his wife of 19 years, told Sun.Star Cebu that she had heard rumors of her husband’s philandering but ignored the talks.

u201cWala man gud siya nagkuwang namo. Iyang gihatag ang tanan (He provided us with everything we needed and asked for),” Jecebel said.

Jecebel last saw her husband Monday as she was leaving for work as a midwife at the Guba Emergency Hospital.

The couple rents an apartment in Talamban, near the school of their son.

Jecebel said her husband was supposed to go home last Wednesday after he had sent over fresh and raw food to be cooked for dinner.

Despite what happened, Jecebel said, she has forgiven her husband and wished for him to rest in peace.

u201cLove kaayo nako siya. Maayo siya nga bana ug amahan (I love him very much and he was a good husband and father),” Jecebel said. (JBT/DSM/Sun.Star Cebu)

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