Dipolog City

Demands for justice mount after murder of Subanen woman in Dipolog

Gualberto Laput

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Demands for justice mount after murder of Subanen woman in Dipolog
Concerned groups band together to demand justice for a 24-year-old woman strangled in Dipolog City

DIPOLOG, Philippines – Nobody seemed to care when 24-year-old Mayumi (not her real name), a woman seen to be of low social standing in this conservative and predominantly Catholic city, who was found dead a month ago. Initially diagnosed as “sudden cardiac arrest” case by a physician, a subsequent autopsy revealed that somebody strangled her.

Now, at least 44 of her friends – fellow Subanens, plain homemakers, LGBTQ members, young workers, and out-of-school youths – banded together to claim her body and chipped in money to give her a decent burial.

They demanded justice for Mayumi.

“Bisan ug sa mata sa mga tawo makasasala siya nga babaye, pero aduna gihapon siyay tawhanong katungod sama kanato ug walay katungod si bisan kinsa kanato nga mokutlo sa iyang kinabuhi, Ginoo ra,” said a housewife who said that Mayumi used to give money for her young children’s schooling.

(Even if she was a sinner in the eyes of the people, she also had human rights just like all of us, and nobody had the right to take her life, only God.)

The number of those who seek justice for Mayumi continuously grows with the Subanen community, members of the LGBTQ community, and several women’s organizations joining in, as they plan to hold a prayer rally on April 16, Mayumi’s 40th day after death, to which Catholics believe is the final day for souls of those who died to leave Earth.

Dipolog City Police Chief Vedasto Dasmarinas III, whose investigators earlier found Mayumi to have died a natural death, told Rappler on Sunday, April 7, that the case was still under investigation but that they already have a person of interest, a security guard who was last seen carrying Mayumi on his back before she was brought to hospital.

A 23-year-old close friend of Mayumi said she’s confused as to why there have been substantial efforts to defend the guard identified as Junrey Gonzales, adding that a week ago, she received a message allegedly from a policeman saying that their group should stop from going after Mayumi’s killer.

As of Monday, April 8, Gonzales is already in hiding, and Mayumi’s mother, who was scheduled to sign an affidavit complaint against the guard that day, could no longer be found at her home in Lebanon town, about 120 kilometers southwest of Dipolog.

The morning after Mayumi died, Gonzales told reporters that he did not know the victim and just saw her already unconscious together with another girl on the road in the private market owned by the family of Representative Ian Adrian Amatong.

However, Gonzales changed his statement on March 14, saying that Mayumi was his close friend and that she and her cousin were at the guard’s house within the market to use his cell phone at about 1 am on March 8.

“Nag-roving ko then pagbalik nako nangatulog na man sila, milakaw na pud ko ug pagbalik nako nagdaot na man si Mayumi, mao to akong gibala ug gidala sa dalan para mangita ug motorcab,” Gonzales told reporters.

(I went on roving and when I was back they were already sleeping. I went out again, but when I returned, Mayumi was already sick, I carried her on my back towards the road to get a motorcab)

An ambulance brought Mayumi to Corazon Aquino Hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival at 3 am. Dr. Arjay Lao issued a “temporary” death certificate, stating that the cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest.”

However, an autopsy by a medico-legal from the Philippine National Police-Zamboanga del Norte Forensic Unit 9, conducted last March 9 and released over a week later, found that Mayumi died of strangulation.

The autopsy also found contusion and hematoma at the lower back of Mayumi’s head, on her cheeks, on the neck, the arms, and legs; “strapped muscle” and bleeding on the trachea and esophagus; fractured sternal bone with blood clots; and cyanotic swelling on “labia majora” that “suggests blunt object was inserted into Mayumi’s sex organ.”

A 22-year-old woman whose family took care of Mayumi at 14 when her mother went back to Labason said that she considered the victim her sister whose longing for her family pushed her to make a lot of friends that became her comfort zone.

Sir nanghangyo mi sa Rappler, ug bisan kinsa nga dunay maluloy-on nga kasingkasing, nga tabangi mi kay duna gyud dagkong tawo nga gustong mahilom mi (Sir, we are pleading with Rappler, and anybody who has big heart, please help us because there are really powerful people who want to silence us),” she said. – Rappler.com

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