A YEAR AFTER: No Justice In Sight For Rebelyn Pitao

Apr. 11, 2010

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY – Tormented by the results of the police investigation into her daughter’s rape-slay case and by the continued surveillance by the military, Evangeline Pitao, mother of Rebelyn Pitao, has declared she has lost trust in the government’s Task Force Rebelyn.

“Authorities have turned the table upon us when we are supposed to be the victims here,” the mother of Rebelyn Pitao told a press conference a year after her daughter’s death.

Evangeline said she is disgusted by the Task Force’s pronouncement that her daughter’s killing was a common crime.

To treat Rebelyn’s case as a common crime totally exonerates the state of its culpability in the killing, said Kelly Delgado, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan.

Delgado said that Rebelyn’s case is among the state-sponsored killings in the country that have remained unsolved up to now.

“Police investigating the killing of Rebelyn did not take into account—and we can say this is deliberate—the fact that she was the daughter of the most wanted New People’s Army (NPA) leader in Southern Mindanao long hunted by the military,” Delgado said.

Youths stage a play depicting the killing of Rebelyn Pitao during a rally at Rizal Park commemorating her death. (contributed photo)

Youths stage a play depicting the killing of Rebelyn Pitao during a rally at Rizal Park commemorating her death. (contributed photo)

Just as police labeled the cases of political killings in the country “common crimes,” so, they also labeled Rebelyn’s rape-slay as common crime.

Police always would never look at the nature of the identities of the victims when they investigate the case. Oftentimes civilians branded as “insurgents” or “connected with insurgents” prior to the killings get victimized.

Even Rebelyn’s body bore evidence that it was no common crime, Delgado added.

Forensic findings showed that Rebelyn was sexually abused and heavily tortured.

Forensic officer Davao del Norte Police chief Inspector Dr. Tomas Dimaandal identified five puncture wounds above and below Rebelyn’s left breast area, three of which perforated through the lung, liver and stomach. She had hematoma in the eye suggesting that it was hit by a hard object. She had abrasions in her left thigh and contusions in her genital area. There was also a single “ligature” mark on her neck suggesting that she was strangulated.

The Task Force has insisted on two theories concerning Rebelyn’s killing: That she could have been killed by a boyfriend; or her death had something to do with a bank account, involving deposits of “revolutionary tax collections” by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Evangeline said her daughter was not going out with someone else. Task Force Rebelyn even put the blame on the Pitao family for allegedly “refusing to cooperate with investigating authorities.”

Delgado said if authorities were really determined in finding out the truth behind Rebelyn’s death, they would have solved the case by now.

“There were leads that could have given the authorities headway in the investigation,” he said, referring to the driver of the tricycle that Rebelyn took the night she was taken by armed men; and the van which was spotted in Panabo near where Rebelyn’s body was discovered a day later.

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