A Killing Too Far: Rebelyn Pitao

The abduction site is about 300 meters from the national highway and is beside a church with the nearest house 50 meters away.

Peliciano is now missing: A fellow driver who did not wish to be named said that right after the incident he quit working his usual route and disappeared. “He is no longer staying at home and we have no idea where he is now. I think he went into hiding because he is a witness,” said the man.

Mrs. Pitao believes her daughter may have been attacked inside the van or taken to a place in nearby Panabo City or Carmen where she was tied up, tortured and killed soon after and then taken after dark to the ditch.

It is believed she was dumped there between midnight and 1 a.m.

According to a police report obtained by the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project from the Carmen police station, Rebelyn’s body was discovered by rice farmer Raffy Agres whose signed affidavit says he found her lying in the flooded ditch at around 5 p.m. that Thursday.

“You could hardly see the body even when you were just beside the canal because of the grass here and the ridge,” said banana plantation worker Noel Lanoy who was with Agres when Rebelyn was found.

“He screamed out that a body had been dumped and it was a summary killing,” said Lanoy. “I first thought it was a banana tree trunk.”

Egles Brieta whose house lies about 100 meters away from the scene, says she didn’t see or hear any vehicle that would have been needed to dump Rebelyn’s body. “It is so quiet here, yet we didn’t hear anything or anybody.”

A makeshift bamboo cross now stands in the knee-deep water where Rebelyn was found. According to Brieta, the bodies of two men were also found dumped here in 2004.

Outrage and denials

The abduction, torture and killing of Rebelyn have been met with widespread disgust and condemnation alongside public pledges to deliver justice and ensure an open, independent and transparent investigation.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered government agencies to conduct a thorough investigation, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has called the abduction, torture and murder “a deed most foul and the work of a monster.”

A senior military officer has called it “a crime against humanity,” with Senator Richard Gordon calling it a “war crime.”

So far however, Task Force Rebelyn, the group set up to investigate the crime claims it has few real leads. Davao City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario initially complained his men had only a few clues to work with – the testimonies of the tricycle driver and the rice farmer who found her –along with a description of the van allegedly used.

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