CEBU, Philippines — Prosecutors in Lapu-Lapu City have indicted the 42-year-old man who owned up to the killing of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan in March this year.
At the same time, they dismissed the complaint against Silawan’s ex-boyfriend whom the National Bureau of Investigation linked to the crime.
State Prosecutors Angelo Hizon Barrios, Francis Ian Birondo, and Jude Henritz Ycong issued the resolution on May 7 but parties to the case received a copy only yesterday.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the undersigned recommends that the complaint against the CICL (Child in Conflict with the Law) be dismissed for lack of probable cause. As for Llenes (Renato Llenes), it is recommended that an Information for murder be filed against him,” read the joint resolution approved by City Prosecutor Ruso Zaragoza.
Silawan, a Grade 9 student of Maribago National High School, was found dead on March 11 at a vacant lot in Sitio Mahayahay, Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City.
She succumbed to multiple stab wounds with her face skinned.
It was the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) that filed the murder complaint against Llenes after the man confessed to the crime.
Police said they were able to trace Llenes’ social media account under the name CJ Diaz that he allegedly used to lure Silawan and other young girls into a relationship. He allegedly pretended to be a teenage boy online.
Prosecutors said the police’s complaint holds water.
“It has been established that respondent Llenes took off the face of Silawan and threw it into the bushes. Just like decapitation, the taking off of the face of the victim constitute outraging or scoffing of the victim’s corpse, thus qualifying the killing of murder,” their resolution reads.
The prosecutors said that even without Llenes’ extra-judicial confession, the closed circuit television camera footages the police presented, as well as the statements of witnesses, could already establish probable cause.
“The chain of events as captured by the CCTV footages wherein Llenes was identified to be the profiled person wearing black short, short pants, and a ball cap while holding a mobile phone in his right hand before meeting with Christine and as the same person last seen with Christine create a circumstance that he could be the person responsible for her death,” the resolution reads.
Meanwhile, the prosecutors said there is no sufficient evidence to indict Silawan’s ex-boyfriend.
“It stated therein that Christine had an active conversation with the CICL. Yet, this inference drawn by the NBI was not substantiated by any evidence despite having gained access to Christine’s Facebook account. The attempt to associate the CICL with CJ Diaz was not proven, if not, an utter failure,” their resolution reads.
The prosecutors also said that even the pieces of evidence the NBI retrieved from the boy’s house were not submitted to substantiate the allegations.
The boy’s lawyer, Vincent Isles, said the prosecutors’ ruling led to real justice for Silawan.
“May this saga makes us people reflect on the importance of due process of law and the presumption of innocence as cornerstone of our rule of law,” Isles said.
The NBI contended earlier that it was the boy who was seen last with Silawan the night before the girl was believed to have been killed.
“The series of CCTV footages materially showed that Silawan and respondent were seen together walking from Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Church in Pajac, starting from 6:12 p.m. up to 6:38 in the evening of that fateful day, 10 March 2019, proceeding to the crime scene,” the NBI’s complaint read.
In his counter-affidavit, however, the boy said he was not at the crime scene at that time, as corroborated by four witnesses.
With the prosecutors’ ruling, cops consider the case solved.
“Labaw pa sa nabunutan ng tinik among na-feel karon nga mas gitagaan og pabor sa piskal ang atong kaso. Mahatagan na nato ug hustisya si Christine apil na pud ang ginikanan niya (I’m more than relieved that the prosecutors have favoured the case of the police. We can finally give Christine and her family justice),” said Police Col. Limuel Obon of the Lapu-Lapu Police.
Obon said diligence and consistency were key to solving the case. He is optimistic that the court will render a ruling that favors the prosecution.
Police Regional Office – 7 Director Debold Sinas, on the other hand, said the recent development will not affect the police’s working relationship with the NBI-7.
He assured that the reward money, which amounts to more than P2 million, will be given to witnesses who provided crucial information that led to Llenes’ arrest.
“Ours is purely work. It will be distributed sa mga tawo na nitabang gyud namo (Ours is purely work. The money will be distributed to those who really helped us),” Sinas said.
The NBI, for its part, said it will study whether or not it will file a motion for reconsideration to the prosecutors’ ruling. — JMO (FREEMAN)