5 suspects in gang-rape of 'Florence' undergo DNA testing
() - October 24, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has subjected five persons to DNA testing to determine their involvement in the sexual abuse of volunteer nurse “Florence” in Maguindanao last month.

NBI-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) acting assistance regional director Arnel Dalumpines said a chemist from their Davao office took samples of the five men seen drinking with the owner of the videoke bar just before Florence was raped.

“The specimen would be brought to the NBI laboratory in Manila for examination and would take three weeks to get the results,” said Dalumpines.

He said they would still investigate South Upi, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Jordan Ibrahim even if he refused to give his specimen for DNA testing.

Ibrahim reportedly refused to comply with the NBI’s request on the advice of his lawyer.

“I talked to the lawyer last Friday and he maintained that Vice Mayor Ibrahim is not willing (to take the DNA test). He told us to just file charges if we want to,” Dalumpines said.

Ibrahim reportedly plans to consult the Commission on Human Rights to know if he should cooperate with the investigation. 

“We have no choice then but to just proceed with the investigation and pursue the lead we have. We are looking into all possible angles. We are looking at other prospects,” Dalumpines said.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said they were considering the transfer of Florence, who was raped in South Upi last Sept. 26, to a safer place.

De Lima also instructed enforcement agencies to provide Florence with adequate protection.

Early forensic evidence showed that only one DNA profile was recovered from the volunteer nurse, suggesting that she was not ganged rape but abused by one person.

Police have also released the six men and the videoke bar owner arrested last Sept. 28 after they were cleared of involvement in the rape case.

NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula said they could not compel Ibrahim to submit to DNA tests.

De Lima has dared Ibrahim to submit to the NBI probe or he would be considered a suspect if he refuses to cooperate.

She said investigations showed Ibrahim might be linked to the rape.

Ibrahim and Melchor Fulgencio, the confessed rapist who later retracted, were together when they followed the nurse on her way out of a videoke bar in Barangay Timanan last Sept. 25.

“We received information that the vice mayor was in the area of the videoke bar,” she said.

When Florence left that place, Fulgencio and the vice mayor allegedly followed her, informants said.

However, De Lima said the information seems to be in conflict with another information received by probers that it would be unlikely for Fulgencio to cover up for the vice mayor because he is supporting a family in dispute with Ibrahim’s family over property.

“These are conflicting reports,” she said.

De Lima said the NBI has yet to get a witness willing to testify.

“It’s very difficult. Remember, South Upi is in Maguindanao and it is a hot spot during election. The locals are very scared to speak. The vice mayor seems to be a very powerful man there.”

Ibrahim was implicated in the incident after NBI forensic tests showed that neither Fulgencio nor any of the six suspects earlier arrested but later released for lack of evidence was responsible for the rape.

“Fulgencio is still a suspect – a co-principal or accomplice,” she said.

Fulgencio, a former militiaman, said he and a certain “alias Edwin” committed the crime. He said he also tried to rape Florence but failed because he was already too drunk.

Later, he retracted his confession, saying he was only forced to make that statement. – Evelyn Macairan, Edu Punay

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