Camarines Sur

Missing Ateneo student found dead near Camarines Sur capitol grounds

Rhaydz Barcia

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Missing Ateneo student found dead near Camarines Sur capitol grounds

VICTIM. Murdered Ateneo de Naga University 12th grader Irish Mae Maguigad Payonga during happy times.

courtesy of Edna Manguigad

(2nd UPDATE)The discovery of the body causes an uproar after it was revealed that the student was found naked in the bushes, and covered with a cement sack and soil, obvious signs of foul play

LEGAZPI, Philippines – Two children on Monday, October 31, stumbled on the body of an 18-year-old high school student of the Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU) near the provincial capitol complex grounds in Pili town, Camarines Sur, three days after she was reported missing by her relatives.

The official police report said two minors discovered the body of Irish Mae “Mai-Mai” Payonga on Jeremiah St., Central Park Subd., Zone 3, Barangay Cadlan, Pili. It also said her Sketcher shoes and denim jacket was found 300 meters away from her body.

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the victim’s body was inside the capitol Complex. This has been corrected.)

Governor Luigi Villafuerte told Rappler that Payonga’s body “was not found within the Capitol Complex. It was found in a different zone, near but not within our gates.”

The discovery of Payonga’s remains caused an uproar in the AdNU community after it was revealed that she was found naked in the bushes, and covered with a cement sack and soil, signs of foul play.

Payonga was an AdNU 12th grader – a grade equivalent to senior high school – who had gone missing on Friday, October 28, while she was supposed to take a bus to Pili to attend a church event.

Police said the discovery of the body was reported past 8 pm on Monday by 42-year-old Chuckie Solomo of Barangay Cadlan, Pili. 

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said victim’s body was discovered Friday evening. This has been corrected.)

It was Solomo’s eight-year-old nephew and 12-year-old niece who found Payonga’s body concealed with a sack of cement and soil around 3 pm that day.

Lawyer Edna Manguigad, Payonga’s aunt, said her niece left their house in Zone 1, Barangay Marupit, Camaligan town, to attend her church’s Tabernacle Revival Night at the Pili Capitol Convention Area. 

The victim was clad in a black t-shirt, a denim jacket, and jeans, and wore a pair of white rubber shoes – things that were no longer on her when the children found her dead.

Manguigad said Payonga was unfamiliar with the place and left for Pili following the instructions of a churchmate on how to get to the venue. 

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story mentioned the town in Camarines Sur as Ipil. This has been corrected.)

“She texted her mother that she will be going home by 8 pm last Friday and that her uncle will bring her home,” she said.

Payonga, according to her aunt, sent another text message to a friend at around 5:44 pm about her being at the bus terminal on her way to attend the church activity in Pili. That was her last known text message.

The student was last seen taking a public bus to Pili, but she never returned.

Manguigad said they found out that Payonga took Bus No. 1082 of JC Liner which left Naga at 5.44 pm that day. 

She said Payonga’s family was looking into the possibility that the victim took a pedicab to the convention area at around 6:30 pm after she stepped out of the bus in Pili.

AdNU president Father Roberto Rivera called Payonga’s death a “soul-crushing news,” and joined calls for justice.

“We express our solidarity with her bereaved family and friends during this time of unspeakable grief,” read part of the AdNU statement released on Tuesday, November 1.

It added: “Let us be inspired by the memory of Irish Mae to work tirelessly for all victims of violence and injustice, to ever proclaim till the end of our days, ‘Never again!’”

Rivera said he spoke with Payonga’s mother Elaine, and assured her of the Ateneo community’s full support amid the tragedy. 

He said, “When I asked her what we in Ateneo can do to help, she simply stated in her text message that ‘we need prayers and justice for my daughter.’”

AdNU’s Supreme Student Government also denounced the murder of Payonga.

The students’ council stated, “It is dismal and outrageous that such a horrendous and violent crime occurred. Until now, the suspect/s and the criminal intent are yet to be identified by the proper authorities. We also hope for a continuous progression of the investigative procedure to finally arrest the perpetrator.”

The group also said murder should serve as a reminder for students to stay cautious at all times. –

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