Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vice-mayor given ultimatum in Maguindanao gang rape case: ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines (ABS-CBN) - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is giving South Upi, Maguindanao Vice-Mayor Jordan Ibrahim up to today to voluntarily submit himself to buccal (oral) swabbing and taking of blood samples for DNA profiling in order to rule him out as suspect in the rape of 21-year-old volunteer nurse, "Florence" last September 25.

De Lima told reporters in a news conference that she has received reports linking the vice-mayor to the crime, but refused to give details.

"Initially, the Vice-Mayor volunteered to give samples but when he said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chemists already came back to Manila. So I directed the NBI investigator-in-charge to find out within the day if the offer of the vice-mayor still stands. I have the details na may indication na baka may kinalaman ang vice-mayor. I have the details right now, but I cannot disclose at this point. In due time, I will disclose," de Lima said.

The justice chief said blood samples and buccal swabs taken from six suspects first rounded up by local police turned negative when compared to samples (vaginal smear, vaginal swab, anal swab) obtained from the victim.

Prosecutors have dropped the charges against Michael Calendario, Jeffrey Fernandez, Glen Saldua, Roscon Sanglap, Darwin Escalona, and Eugene Biscarra for lack of evidence.

Another suspect, Melchor Fulgencio, remains in jail and is facing rape with frustrated homicide charges.

De Lima however said Fulgencio also tested negative in the DNA profiling.

"Negative yung 7. But investigators are saying na si Fulgencio seems to be telling the truth partially. Kasi nag-polygraph test sila. Meaning, yung mga sinasabi niyang iba, totoo. Ang kwestyunable na lang, ang identity nung sinasabi niyang Edwin. It's possible Fulgencio knows kung sino exactly ang Edwin na yan only that he (Fulgencio) is not willing to say it," de Lima said.

Two other males were subjected to DNA profile, including the owner of the videoke joint where Candelario's group was drinking. They, too, tested negative in the DNA profiling.

"The results of the test (on Florence) point only to a single DNA profile. So isang male lang daw," de Lima said.

The Justice chief said she will immediately send NBI chemists to South Upi should Vice-Mayor Ibrahim say he is willing to subject himself to the test.

"There are reports that he is hesitant. I was told his lawyers said they will accede to that only if he is officially considered a suspect," de Lima said.

Asked what the repercussions were should Ibrahim respond by refusing the test, de Lima said she will confer with the NBI and the Philippine National Police for the possibility of declaring him a suspect.

The DOJ is also awaiting word from Florence's doctors as to when she can be accessed by investigators so she can shed light on the incident.

The DOJ is also mulling transferring Florence to a hospital in Metro Manila to ensure her security.

Florence is currently being secured by the Davao police at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City where she is recuperating from blows to the head and body. (Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News)

Link: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/10/19/10/vice-mayor-given-ultimatum-maguindanao-gang-rape-case

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