“He was released by the NBI?”
That was Fermina Silawan Garcia said, being surprised that the killer of her niece was set free.
The release of the alleged killer of their family member, Christine Lee Silawan shookt the family—as it was also timely done in the day of her funeral.
“We didn’t know anything about this,” Garcia said, who is the aunt of the victim.
Silawan, who was brutally murdered in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City had been laid to rest yesterday. As her death sparked up a national call to hunt her murderer, the killer is still on the loose as recently, the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s office ordered the release of the 17-year-old suspect because the arrest made by the National Bureau of Investigation was invalid since it was done without a warrant.
The aunt said that they were dismayed on the release of the suspect, although they would prefer him to be detained by following proper procedure to ensure that the case would not be dismissed.
The Prosecutor’s Office acted on the motion filed by Vincent Isle, lawyer of the suspect, on Thursday, that sought the release of the minor pending resolution of the murder complaint filed by the NBI.
The lawyer argued that the arrest was invalid since the suspect was taken into custody without a warrant.
The suspect was arrested by NBI agents at his house in Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City in the evening of March 16, seven days after Silawan was killed.
Based on the footage from the closed-circuit television cameras, the suspect was with the girl before she was killed in the evening of March 10.
Silawan was found dead in Barangay Bangkal, Lapu-Lapu, the next day: her face skinned, her organs in the neck area removed, and her body bearing 30 stab wounds—also her undergarments missing.
Using the footage as evidence, the NBI filed a murder complaint against the suspect which was still then pending at the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Silawan family set the interment Saturday after being convinced that the authorities already have the right suspect—keeping their promise that the young girl would be buried if her killer has already put behind bars.
Ironically, on the day she was buried—so was the release of her suspect.
According to the Inquirer on reaching out the attorney of the suspect, “Yes. We took the boy under our custody at around 12:25 p.m. [on Saturday].”
Isle said his client was released from the Lapu-Lapu City Social Welfare and Development past noon on Saturday.
At that time, at least 1,000 people, including relatives, neighbors, and friends of the victim, were attending the Requiem Mass for Silawan at the Santo Niño Church in Lapu-Lapu.
Some of the mourners were not relatives or friends of the victim.
Among those who attended the Mass were Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, Lapu-Lapu Vice Mayor Marcial Ycong, and members of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption led by Dante Jimenez.
Jimenez said that Silawan’s murder would push government officials to restore the death penalty.
From ‘solved’ to unsolved
Four days ago, the Philippine National Police declared the case as ‘solved’.
“Masasabi na natin na (We can say that) the murder case is solved,” Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, spokesman for the PNP, said.
However, Banac said they could not still consider the Silawan case closed as authorities are still looking for other suspects.
Banac further noted then that the murder of Silawan was a crime of passion.
He said initial reports suggested she and the suspect were romantically involved.
“Extreme rush of emotion, anger or jealousy over his relationship to the victim,” Banac said in Filipino.
On this development, Banac said investigators have dropped Jonas Bueno as one of the alleged suspects in Silawan’s murder.
He said that the Central Visayas police never considered Bueno a supect.
Bueno was arrested in Davao City due to the murder of a farmer in Danao City in January.
Banac said the Central Visayas police is giving support to the NBI, whose agents arrested the suspect.
“The NBI is the lead agency in this investigation and all records of the case in our possession will be turned over to the NBI Regional Office 7,” Banac said.
With two suspects released, the investigation agency is expected to issue a statement on the investigation after a sudden turn-around of events, and to pursue the real killer behind the murder which remains unsolved.