Police chief relieved over probe of missing helper

Oct. 04, 2023
Photo from Justine Mae Saldua’s Facebook account

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) has relieved the head of Police Station 8 Toril Police Major Michael Uyanguren following the investigation on the case of his house help who was reported missing since August 29.

“PMAJ MICHAEL S UYANGUREN, the Station Commander of Police Station 8 Toril who was identified as the employer of the subject missing person was administratively relieved of his post on Sept. 29, 2023,” read part of the statement released by DCPO on Monday, October 2.

Uyanguren’s removal from his post as the station commander was to avoid influencing the investigation of the PNP “with the utmost intention of ensuring the safety of the persons involved and that due process is observed”, said the DCPO as a team has been formed to investigate the case.

The missing helper, Justine Mae Saldua, age 21, was last seen on the night of August 28 or 37 days ago as of this writing. Her parents, Jimmy and Maritess, brought the matter to Senator Raffy Tulfo through his television program aired last September 28, exactly a month after Saldua went missing. They asked the lawmaker to help them find their daughter who was supposed to go home on September 4 in time for her late son’s birthday.

Maritess said Saldua called them on August 28 and asked her father to fetch her as she promised to go home. Little did they know that would be their last communication.

During their guesting in Sen. Tulfo’s program, an exchange of private messages between Saldua and her aunt was read on-air where she shared about her situation as a helper in Toril.

“Nag work man ko Toril. Wala man ko kabalo nga ing-ani diay (I’m working in Toril. But I have no idea it will be like this),” Saldua messaged her aunt.

Further messages were translated by Tulfo’s co-anchor as: “Natatakot ako sa amo na pulis, wag kang maingay dahil delikado maraming madadamay. Kelangan kong may masumbungan dahil sumikip na yung dibdib ko. Wag kang magsumbong kay nanay at tatay ikaw lang ang sinabihan ko para sa safety ko.”

(I’m afraid of my police employer. Don’t tell anybody because it’s dangerous, many will be affected. I need to vent this out because it’s already heavy to take. Please don’t tell mother and father. I only shared this with you for my safety.)

She then added, ” madumi na ako kasi ginalaw na ako.” (I’m filthy now because I’ve been violated.)

Saldua’s mother said they only filed a police blotter in Monkayo, Davao de Oro where they also reside.

Maritess said that Uyanguren went to their house on September 4 when he was informed Saldua did not come home to her parents. The police chief assured them to investigate the disappearance of her daughter and gave Php 5,000 for the needs of the latter’s children.

“Natanong nga kami noon kung may CCTV ba tapos ang sabi nya hindi raw lahat nagpafunction (We even asked him if there’s CCTV but he said not all were functioning),” she added.

The visit was confirmed by Uyanguren himself when he was interviewed during the program. “Sabi ko sa kanila kung hindi makauwi ng three days irecord na natin as missing (I told them that if she will not come home in three days, we’ll record her as missing),” Uyanguren said.

Uyanguren said that he asked Saldua not to go home but she insisted. He said his daughter accompanied Saldua to the street near their house in Lubogan, Toril to help her hail a taxi. The same statement was shared with Saldua’s family by Uyanguren’s wife, according to Maritess, who invited them to come to their house in Toril for a talk.

Uyanguren said that he had ordered his personnel to conduct a verification in the area of Toril upon learning of Saldua’s disappearance.

But Tulfo probed Uyanguren and even challenged the relieved police chief and also his daughter to undergo a lie detector test to help the DCPO in their investigation. He also committed to conduct a separate Senate hearing on Saldua’s case. (Kath Cortez/davaotoday.com)

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