Investigate the shocking working student incident!

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

Nothing is more important than the safety of our citizens. When the streets are not safe anymore, the people will live in fear. Many will fall into the hands of criminals. Fortunately for Inday, a call center agent, she narrowly escaped from the hands of her supposed victimizer by jumping from the backseat of the motorcycle she was riding.

On or about 10 p.m. last August 19, 2023, somewhere in Sto. Niño Village in Banilad, Cebu City, Inday (not her real name) tried to book Angkas motorcycle app to bring her to her workplace in IT Park in Barangay Apas. Time was not on her side because, after many attempts, she could not get a driver.

Her attempt to book Angkas was her second option, as she often takes a jeepney or the mini-bus, which is cheaper. She wanted to save money as she is also a college student during the day.

Just when she lost hope of getting a ride, a motorcycle with a driver dressed in Angkas attire and wearing the company’s helmet appeared. The driver must have been off-duty or not working with Angkas anymore but still wearing the uniform. We do not know yet as of this writing.

She directed him to take her to IT Park. Her instruction was clear; to go straight along the national highway and turn right at the crossing of Salinas Drive, with TESDA as a landmark, to reach her destination.

But the driver, who intended to victimize her, followed a different direction. The driver turned right early, entering the Gaisano Country Mall in Banilad, and proceeded further to an unfamiliar road. She informed him that he had gone in the wrong direction. Fearing for her life, she told him that she wanted to disembark.

The driver just continued driving, ignoring her plea, and brought her further to an unlit and uninhabited place in Barangay Apas. Sensing danger to her life or womanhood, she gathered strength, jumped off the motorcycle, and ran away, calling for help.

She suffered wounds and bruises on her feet, arms, and hands. But worse than that, the incident brought her unspeakable fear, the same way victims of crimes feel. It has traumatized her.

What would have happened if she failed to escape? If something worse happened to her, she would have been part of the cold statistics of the increasing rates of crimes that will be forgotten until the next crime occurs. Her resolve to jump from the motorcycle, defying the danger the act could bring, saved her.

She went to dyHP RMN Cebu to tell her story during my “Straight to the Point” radio program. The Angkas management expressed its willingness to cooperate in the investigation. They are just waiting for the police to initiate.

We cannot continue living in an environment where criminals have no fear of the law. How many victims are out there who, unlike Inday, chose to keep silent about the horror of their stories?

Like many of us, Inday wants to have her place under the sun. That is why she works hard as a call center agent and studies just as hard as a student. Millions of peace-loving citizens take that path. How many call center agents, or even non-call center agents, have to be victimized before we wake up to the fact that the safety and security of all citizens is a serious matter?

To challenge the Mabolo Police Station to investigate this incident and identify the perpetrator is in order. They should leave no stone unturned to convey that crime does not pay.

When cops do their jobs seriously and the community cooperates, crimes will be solved. Look at the case of rape and murder victim Rhea Mae Tocmo. What happened to her may be hard to comprehend and is another proof of man’s capacity for brutality. We cannot even say that we understand her immediate family's pain upon learning about her death, but such pain would have been deeper if the suspect had not been arrested.

We shall, therefore, express our gratitude to those who worked day and night to solve the crime led by Police Major Angelito Vallecer of the Labangon Police Station, Police Lieutenant Colonel Jannette Rafter, and Police Colonel Ireneo Dalogdog.

As regards Inday’s case, I wish that our police officers and the community would work hand-in-hand again so that justice will be served the soonest in this latest incident.

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