Police identify suspects in brutal killing of trans woman in Pangasinan

The primary suspects being sought in the brutal stabbing of trans woman Jessa Remiendo — identified by some as a hate crime — were today identified by the Pangasinan police.

Police Chief Rederico Maranan identified the alleged killers as Isagani Dollaga and Michael Orpano, residents of Patar village in Bolinao, where Remiendo’s body was found. Maranan said they are preparing murder charges against both suspects.

Bolinao Executive Senior Police Officer Alma de la Cruz, who spoke to Coconuts Manila on the phone this afternoon, said the pair had been identified by a witness, though the witness is being left unnamed for the time being.

According to Rappler, Remiendo’s bloodied body was found yesterday on the shore of a beach in Patar. Police said that, based on their investigation, Remiendo was drinking with her colleagues and sister on Monday night at Valdevia Resort, where she worked.

She left the group to buy cigarettes, but never returned, and was found dead the next day with stab wounds on her neck and right eye, ABS-CBN reported.

Remiendo’s killing has since been condemned by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) and various LGBT groups.

“This incident reminds us all of the need to continue pushing for a more inclusive society that respects the rule of law and the dignity of everyone,” CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia  said in a statement today.

“With the motive still unknown, we urge our police to ensure that there will be justice for her death,” the CHR statement adds. “Nobody deserves to have their lives to be curtailed at a whim, let alone that the victim is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, a vulnerable sector of our society.”

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Noreen Barber, president of the United Pangasinan Association LGBTQ+, said they were shocked by the incident, as the trans community was “widely accepted” in Pangasinan, where trans couples and their partners can walk safely in public.

Barber, who claims to have known the victim personally from the province’s tight-knit LGBTQ community, described the victim as kind. “She was family-oriented; I couldn’t imagine it happening,” she told Rappler

The University of the Philippines Babaylan, one of the biggest LGBTQ college organizations in the country, condemned Remiendo’s killing, which they called a hate crime.

“This only stresses the need for the immediate passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill,” they said. “We demand that our senators do their duty to protect our constitutionally-recognized rights as human beings, and finally pass into law one of the policies that will protect us from discrimination on the basis of our SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics).”

The government meanwhile, is still deliberating on passing the the SOGIE bill, which aims to protect the LGBTQ+ community against hate crimes and discrimination.

Correction: A previous version of this article mentioned they were drinking on Tuesday night but the incident occurred on Monday night.

This article, Police identify suspects in brutal killing of trans woman in Pangasinan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!