VIGAN CITY — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed concerns with the slow resolution of the Fabel Pineda rape and murder case, “despite the strong condemnation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the grave violation committed by their fellow men in uniform.”
“Six months have elapsed since the alleged rape and killing of 15-year old girl Fabel Pineda by police officers in Ilocos Sur, but justice remains elusive for her and her cousin,” CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement dated January 18.
The sexual assault and murder case of the Ilocos minor drew widespread condemnation. Fabel identified their assailants as Police Staff Sergeants Marawi Torda and Randy Ramos, both assigned in San Juan Municipal Police Station. The officers allegedly accosted Fabel and her cousin for curfew violation, and abused them sexually on June 29 last year.
On July 2, motorcycle-riding men shot and killed her while on the way home after filing formal complaints against Ramos and Torda at the Cabugao Municipal Police Station.
Then PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa promised to deliver swift justice and provide the stiffest penalty for the perpetrators. He also ordered the immediate dismissal of Ramos and Torda from the service.
The PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG), a unit responsible for receiving complaints and investigating erring police personnel, handled the case. Torda and Ramos faced grave misconduct charges for rape and acts of lasciviousness.
However, CHR noted reports on the dismissal of the police personnel implicated in the incident. Contrary to claims, the commission said the PNP only dismissed Ramos from service while Torda was exonerated due to lack of sufficient evidence.
“Both suspects are on restrictive custody under the PNP Regional Office while their murder and attempted murder cases are still on trial,” the CHR spokesperson said.
Human rights violated
De Guia said the independent investigation conducted by CHR Regional Office I “confirmed that there were indeed human rights violations committed by the police officers.”
Aside from the rape and killing, the family of Fabel also complained how the Cabugao police handled the case. Her uncle, who accompanied Fabel in filing the case, complained that Staff Sergeant Merly Joy Pascua of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk allegedly denied their request for assistance and escort.
Then PNP Provincial Director Colonel Ronald Tagao admitted that Pascua committed lapses. He said the CWD officer failed to follow the standard procedure on handling such cases and failed to complete the filing of the complaint. He also relieved the municipal police chiefs of Cabugao and San Juan for the incident.
Send a clear message
De Guia urged the PNP and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the immediate resolution of the case to “send an unequivocal message to law enforcement officials that abuse of power shall never be tolerated among their ranks.”
“Impunity for police abuse often leads to a deadly cycle of violence that needs utmost denunciation across the board. The case of Fabel and her cousin exposes the reality of women and girls who are allegedly raped or sexually abused by persons in authority or in police custody who often face threats of serious reprisals,” she added.
The fear of retaliation from their assailants, De Guia explained, often leads the victim to remain silent or withdraw the complaint.
“Such incidents are a clear betrayal of public trust by the same people who have sworn oaths to protect its citizens,” she said.
CHR committed to closely monitor the case and provide the necessary financial support for the families of Fabel and her cousin to pursue the case against the two officers.
“The CHR hopes that the PNP remains faithful to its earlier commitment to swiftly deliver justice and carry out reforms within the institution to produce morally upright and credible policemen who can genuinely maintain peace and order in the community,”
De Guia said. ●