The police chiefs of San Fernando and Baao towns met for a case conference Monday afternoon.
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Priest is person of interest in death of Camarines Sur woman
Melissa Basmayor (philstar.com) - June 18, 2018 - 6:42pm

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines (Bicol Standard) (Updated June 19, 2:34 p.m.)  — The death of 28-year-old Jeraldyn Bulalacao Rapinan of Barangay San Jose in Baao has rocked the Roman Catholic leadership in this province after a priest was tagged as a person of interest in the killing.

Rapinan's lifeless body was dumped in a grassy portion of a roadside along Maharlika Highway at Del Pilar, San Fernando, Camarines Sur on June 15.

She had several stab wounds on her chest, and there were signs that she was strangled. Her hands and feet were bound by a yellow nylon cord, while her face was covered by a malong when she was found.

The Bicol Standard news team went to the office of Fr. Louie Occiano, parish priest of Baao, Camarines Sur to verify the reports.

Occiano confirmed that the priest, whose name is being withheld while a thorough investigation is underway, had earlier Monday vehemently denied reports linking him to the incident.*

"He himself was surprised why his name cropped up in the issue as allegedly, he had not seen the victim for a long time. On the day of the incident, he had just arrived in Naga City from Siruma where he attended a fiesta. He spent the day at a mall, and had a massage in the evening and fell asleep early. The next day, he was flooded with calls and inquiries on the whereabouts of the victim," Occiano said.

He added that the Archdiocese of Caceres told him it expresses sympathy to the family and friends of the victim. They added they will respect and cooperate with the authorities on the investigation. Furthermore, they will listen to the priest's side.

As of this writing, Fr. Occiano, together with the priest, and one other, are in a meeting at the Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City.

Victim's family claims illicit relationship

Meanwhile, at their residence in Barangay San Jose, Vivencia Bulalacao Rapinan, the mother of the victim, looked intently at her daughter’s face through the casket, as if seeking for answers.

In an interview with the Bicol Standard, she revealed she feels both hatred and fear over what happened to her daughter.

"Ai-ai" had been looking for money to fund her child's baptism, which was slated on Saturday, June 23.

She said that she knew about the relationship between her daughter and the priest. “It had been going on for some time already.”

Ai-ai previously served as a helper in the residence of the priest, Vivencia noted. She stayed there for ten years.

While the interview was ongoing, the victim’s cousin and bestfriend, Sherilyn Rapinan, came forward to volunteer information.

She confirmed the illicit relationship.

“I know this because Ai-ai and I kept no secret from each other,” she said.

She said Ai-ai informed her that she would be meeting somebody at the Diversion Road in Baao for about 15 minutes. Ai-ai said she was expecting that person to give her money for the baptism.

Asked whether the person was the father of the child, she supposedly answered: “Yes.”

When Ai-ai did not return after an hour, she started to worry.

“I tried calling her on her cellphone. It kept ringing, but no one was picking up,” Sherilyn narrated.

Sherilyn later received a text message sent through Ai-ai's number saying she would not be going home that night.

She said it was suspicious for Ai-ai not to come home because “she had no extra clothes with her, and her child was left at home.” 

Meanwhile, other residents of Baao reported another woman from the Rinconada area also has an intimate relationship with the same priest.

Investigators are still verifying the reports.

Investigation continues

Baao Mayor Jeff Besinio said that residents have gone to his office since the murder to verify rumors.

“I have already instructed the police to exert extra effort in finding information,” he said, but declined to give further information on the ongoing investigation.

When Bicol Standard sought information from the Baao Municipal Police Station, the news team was told that the local police helped in the preparation of Vivencia's affidavit.

They could not give additional details, however, as the case happened within the jurisdiction of the San Fernando Municipal Police Station.

The chiefs of police of San Fernando and Baao met for a case conference in Baao on Monday afternoon.

Melissa Basmayor is the editor-in-chief of the Bicol Standard, a regional partner of Philstar.com.

(*Editor's note: The following sentences have been rewritten to make clear that Fr. Louie Occiano is not the person of interest in the case:

"Occiano confirmed that earlier Monday, the priest vehemently denied reports that link him to the incident.

The priest's name is being withheld upon request while a thorough investigation is underway."

 

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