CATBALOGAN, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Eastern Visayas has increased crime prevention measures and deployed over 700 police officers across Samar province.
This came as police arrested suspects involved in a highly publicized gang rape case in Samar’s capital city, Catbalogan, that caused widespread outrage.
Police-Eastern Visayas director Brigadier General Rommel Marbil said the deployment would beef up the Task Force Maharlika, a group that has been tasked to secure a major road traversing through Samar.
Authorities said some 769 police officers were sent out to augment checkpoints in various localities to protect citizens and as a crime deterrent measure.
Marbil’s order came as a swift response as the incidence of street crimes in Samar surged, including a heinous gang rape of a teenager that sent shockwaves of public outrage throughout Catbalogan.
On Thursday, February 23, police arrested four young men, including a minor, who were placed in the list of the most wanted people in Catbalogan City for the alleged gang-rape of a teenager in November.
Their arrest ended a nearly three-month police hunt for the group that has been linked to the crime that sparked a public outrage in the relatively small and peaceful capital city of Samar province.
Except for one, the suspects are all in their twenties, and charged with four counts of statutory rape.
The eldest, a 26-year-old, was also charged with violation of the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act for allegedly taking a video of the abuse.
The youngest, a 15-year-old, was sent by the City Social Welfare and Development Office to the Bahay Pag-asa Youth Development Center to undergo a program for young offenders.
Prosecutors recommended no bail for the suspects in connection to their statutory rape case.
Three of the suspects, all from the village of Payao, were taken to a lock-up facility of the Catbalogan City Police Office where they now await trial.
Catbalogan police director Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Oloan Jr. said the suspects were arrested after concerned residents provided policemen information about the suspects’ whereaboutts.
Oloan said the suspects allegedly took turns in abusing a 14-year-old at a beach near a school several kilometers from downtown Catbalogan after a drinking binge.
He said the victim, traumatized, was placed under the care of city hall’s social welfare officers.
Police said the troop deployment would make the police presence more visible and felt, and serve as a deterrent to crimes that usually happen outdoors.
With the task force in place, Marbil said he expected to see quicker police response in situations when crimes are being committed. – Rappler.com
Ricky Bautista is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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