Questions Linger on Murder of Attaché

Once, according to sources in the DSWD, Cabilao was reprimanded by his superiors for testifying in court for one of the victims of human trafficking. Lecaros, in a report in Newsbreak magazine, said that he had warned Cabilao against testifying in court. “His orientation is, whatever it takes to help. But I told him, don’t let your good intentions put you at risk.” Lecaros said Cabilao opened himself to counter-suits. “I told him, if you are put on defensive due to one case, you won’t be able to help many others,” he said, according to Newsbreak.

Other officials told Cabilao that his diplomatic immunity might be waived if he did not stop testifying in court. “Then waive it if you want to waive it,” Cabilao supposedly told them.

The court’s decision on the case in which Cabilao had testified is expected come out this month.

“Inside Job”

Anunciacion said he did not discount the possibility that Cabilao might also have uncovered an anomaly inside the Philippine embassy itself. “The issuance of passports in Sabah is one of the most lucrative businesses in the Philippine embassy there because they collect a higher price for it,” Anunciacion said.

The authorities, he said, “should not only investigate the big syndicates but also the employees working in the Philippine embassy in Malaysia.”

While the Malaysian foreign minister has promised to pursue justice for Cabilao, Gaite of Courage said DSWD has remained nonchalant regarding Cabilao’s death. In fact, Baclagon, Cabilao’s former staff, told Bulatlat that DSWD officials believe that the murder might not be related to the slain official’s job.

“We were told by officials of DSWD that if there was really an intention to kill my brother because of his job then he would have been killed in ‘hot spots’ like Sabah and not in his very own home,” Leonarfina said. But, she insisted, murder can happen in any place.

Leonarfina said she was surprised when she found out that it was her sister-in-law who had called the Philippine embassy in Malaysia to check on Cabilao. “They should have been alarmed when one of their employees was no longer reporting for work,” Leonarfina said.

She said they consider the murder an “inside job.”

As of press time, Cabilao’s family has not yet received the police and autopsy reports from Kuala Lumpur. “I thought that other countries are ‘high-tech’ but it seems that they are much slower than the Philippines,” Leonarfina said.

She added that Licaros had met the family and that the communication between them had only been filled with promises. “Whenever I see the ambassador talking to my sister-in-law,” Leonarfina said, “I want to punch him in the face.”

Task Force

With the seeming lack of action from the DSWD, Baclagon and other government employees and nongovernmental organization formed a team that would seek justice for Cabilao’s death, called the Task Force Justice for Finard Cabilao and Victims of Human Trafficking.

Leonarfina is an active member of the task force. She said that her siblings fear for her safety but Leonarfina thinks that whatever happens to her, it would be all worth it because she would be able to uncover the reason for her brother’s death. She added the family can only attain closure once justice is done.

Leonarfina said the family has been having a hard time accepting the fate of her brother. She is deeply worried about Cabilao’s 17-year-old daughter Aira, who is currently in a “state of denial.” “She keeps on saying that her father is in Malaysia and that he would never come home,” Leonarfina told Bulatlat.

For OFWs in distress, Cabilao is a huge loss and that his death signals to abusers that if one works for the welfare of OFWs, they might suffer for it. Anunciacion of Migrante fears that government employees deployed to other countries supposedly to assist OFWs might now be fearful in fully doing their job, afraid that they might end up like Finardo Cabilao. (

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