A 17-YEAR-old boy has been charged with murder after the evidence gathered by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 pointed to him as the prime suspect in the murder of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan.
Silawan was killed on the evening of Sunday, March 10, according to NBI 7 findings.
The victim reportedly had a relationship with the suspect, John (not his real name).
NBI 7 Director Tomas Enrile said John admitted that Silawan was his girlfriend, but he said they ended their relationship last Feb. 28.
The suspect did not admit to killing Silawan, whose body was found bearing 30 stab wounds. Her face had been skinned, and her tongue, esophagus, trachea and right ear had also been ripped from her body.
Despite John’s denial, investigators found healed wounds on the shoulders of John. They believed the wounds were caused by Silawan’s resistance.
The NBI said murder suspect Jonas Martel Bueno had nothing to do with Silawan’s death, which they described as likely caused by the suspect’s extreme fit of jealousy. (See story on 4.)
Enrile said they were careful in interrogating the suspect as the latter was still a minor, which is why they did not force him to make any admission in the absence of the suspect’s lawyer and a representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7.
The NBI’s pieces of evidence are circumstantial in nature—conversations between Silawan and John on Facebook messenger, the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras showing the pair together and the accounts of witnesses.
Witnesses identified John as the same person seen in the CCTV footage with the victim hours before her dead body was found on Monday morning, March 11.
On Saturday, March 16, the NBI 7 applied for a search warrant to seize evidence before the sala of Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Judge Ramon Daomilas.
The application stemmed from the agents’ investigation and identification of John through Facebook.
The NBI implemented the search warrant after Daomilas granted it.
Seized from John were his electronic devices, including his cell phone. Agents then took him under custody by virtue of the “hot pursuit” principle as he was positively identified by witnesses.
The NBI conducted a parallel investigation with the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office. Malacañang ordered a fast resolution on the case.
NBI 7 Assistant Director Dominador Cimafranca said they had not yet closed the investigation.
“We are determining whether he had cohorts,” he said.
Cimafranca said the suspect possibly had cohorts because the victim was killed in a brutal manner.
Silawan’s mother, Lourdes, was not contented with the arrest of the primary suspect.
“Dili ko makatuo nga siya rang usa ang nagbuhat sa ingun ana. Siguro naa gyud na siyay mga kauban (I cannot believe he did this alone. He must have had cohorts),” Lourdes said.
She did not know that her daughter had a boyfriend.
Lourdes described the arrest of the alleged primary suspect as futile as her daughter could not be brought back to life.
She said she wanted to personally ask the suspect about his motive in killing her daughter, but she would ask permission from the NBI 7 first.
“Ang akong gibati dili gyud ingon totally nga komportable na ko. Kay ngano? Bisan kon nadakpan na siya, bisan kon siya na gyud ang tinuod nga kriminal, taas pa man gud unta ni siya (Silawan) og kaugmaon (What I am feeling right now is that I am not totally comfortable. Even if he was caught, even if he is the real criminal, she (Silawan) would have had a good future if she were still alive),” she said.
Lourdes said her daughter had a lot of plans.
“Ako naglantaw ron sa namatay nga damgo sa akong anak (I am staring right now at the dead dreams of my child),” she said.
The Provincial Board (PB) on Monday, March 17, approved a resolution authorizing Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III to grant P200,000 as incentive and/or reward to any person/s who can provide the needed information that would lead to the arrest of the real culprit/s in the brutal killing of Silawan.
A separate resolution extending P50,000 in financial assistance to Silawan’s bereaved family was also approved by the PB.
Both measures were filed by Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, chairperson of the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children.
In an interview, Magpale said there is a need to establish more facilities for children in conflict with the law in the province. (WITH RTF, KAL)