Architect’s rape-murder shakes up Davao’s image as peaceful city

May. 21, 2023
CCTV footage shows that the victim was last seen boarding a yellow tricycle at Crossing Fausta, Calinan District.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Twenty-eight-year-old architect-engineer Vlanche Marie Bragas was found dead on Wednesday, May 17, in a banana plantation in Calinan.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) confirmed this and said autopsy reports showed signs of rape.

DCPO spokesperson Major Catherine dela Rey said the autopsy report of Bragas showed she died from “asphyxia by manual strangulation” and further found “recent genital trauma” indicating she was raped.

Her body was found along a ditch in the banana plantation of Subasta Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Agricultural Cooperative in Barangay Dacudao, covered with banana leaves and reportedly half-naked with her pants removed.

A special investigation task force group is formed by the DCPO to look into the murder which stunned residents in Davao City.

Police had recovered CCTV footage that showed Bragas was on board a yellow Bajaj three-wheeler at Crossing Fausta, Calinan District the night before the incident, and are probing tricycle drivers associations in that area for leads.

The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) Davao Chapter condemned the murder of Bragas.

“Her rape and subsequent abandonment in a desolate grassland have utterly shocked and anguished us,” the group said.

Despite the image of Davao as the “most peaceful city in the Philippines” and its low crime rate, reports from the PNP Regional Office showed that Davao City has reported 35 rape cases in the first four months of 2023, with most victims being minors below 16 years old.

In 2022, the city recorded 193 rape incidents, an average of 1.5 incidents a month.

Davao City has the highest incident of rape cases in Davao Region last year, totaling 193 of the 604 incidents in 2022. Barely half of these or 279 cases have been resolved while 210 are stuck in preliminary investigation.

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