An alliance of individuals from the church, academe and human rights groups expressed dismay over how the Philippine National Police (PNP) handles the case of Rebelyn Pitao.
Rebelyn, 20, was abducted by four armed men at 6:30 p.m. last March 4, 2009 at the crossing of Bago Gallera de Oro Subdivision, Bago Gallera, Tolomo, Davao City. She was found dead floating in an irrigation ditch in Carmen, Davao del Norte the next day. Her body bore five stab wounds with signs of rape and torture.
Recently, the PNP Task Force Rebelyn, purportedly because of the absence of evidence, has dropped the military from the list of suspects in the abduction and murder of Rebelyn.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, the Exodus for Justice and Peace maintained that the Task Force Rebelyn has not only exonerated the suspected military agents for the abduction and murder of Rebelyn but has also turned its accusing fingers towards the victim’s family.’
Pastor Amancio Benegian, spokesperson of the group, said, “The exoneration is a testament to how the military has made a mockery of our quest for justice and an insult to our sense of dignity and the family’s continuing grief and loss.”
The task force publicly announced that it is now focusing on two other angles: the killing of a rebel returnee allegedly on orders of Parago, and the allegations that Parago had been laundering money from the NPA using Rebelyn as conduit.
The Exodus for Justice and Peace found these so-called angles absurd. “It is more absurd that they are probing the Pitao family of their properties. If they could be this diligent in probing the Pitao family, why can they not be diligent in probing the suspects, the AFP’s Military Intelligence Group and Intelligence Battalion, who are staying right there in their camps?” said Benegian.
“Two months after Rebelyn’s barbaric death, Task Force Rebelyn has now unleashed its real motive: to absolve the military establishmentf. The outcome of the investigation has nothing to do with bringing justice over Rebelyn’s rape and gruesome death on the hands of suspected military agents,” the group asserted.
The group further said that the Task Force Rebelyn’s recent pronouncement ‘further bolsters what the United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston had cited in his report: the failure of the state to stop the killings.’
In his recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Alston said the Philippine government has failed to institutionalize or implement the many necessary reforms that have been identified in addressing the extra-judicial killings in the country.
The group called for an independent probe on the case of Rebelyn.