MANILA, Philippines - There was uncertainty in the room when the Davantes family found out that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had a breakthrough in the investigation of 25-year-old Kae Davantes' murder.
Late Friday night, September 20, the NBI apprehended 19-year-old Samuel Decimo, who later confessed to the crime. He showed reporters a cut on his hand which he allegedly got after stabbing Davantes.
"Naghahalo —nagtataka, ano ba yung development? Totoo ba ito? Mag-proprosper ba yung case?" said Vince Davantes, Kae's uncle who also serves as the family's spokesman. (It was a mix of confusion, disbelief, hope. Is this real? Will the case prosper?)
"Pero mas malaki pa rin ang saya. Andoon pa rin naman faith natin sa law enforcement. Itong development kasi, isipin mo 14 days lang, malaking bagay. Malaki ang boost sa morale," he added. (But we are happy. We have faith in our law enforcement. This development, which happened in just 14 days, is a huge boost to our morale.)
Davantes was found dead last week after a night out in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. She was found under a bridge in Silang, Cavite — gagged and bound with 5 stab wounds. She died due to asphyxiation and stab wounds.
Decimo was put under NBI custody after operatives in Laguna caught him robbing a jeepney. The NBI, according to Deputy Director for Regional Operations Atty Virgilio Mendez, had earlier received information about a robbery group that could have been responsible for her killing.
Confession of guilt
Wearing a yellow T-shirt and a black cap, Decimo confessed his guilt before the media. He said he only joined the group because he was in need — his partner had just given birth. Decimo claimed it was his first time to join the group.
Decimo asked forgiveness from the family on Friday, saying he hoped they would understand his situation. Vince admitted it would be difficult.
"I can't speak for the family but personally, hindi ko pa magagawa yan (I can't do it). I'm still angry," he said. Vince visited the NBI on Saturday to get details about the arrest himself. The family only found out through the media Friday night.
Decimo said 4 others are involved in the killing of Kae, and added that he is willing to help the NBI with the case. Operations to find the 4 are ongoing.
Theft behind killing
Mendez described Decimo as a "neophyte." Asked why he thinks Decimo confessed right away, Mendez said: "kapag bagito ka, once you're in custody, bibigay yan." (When you're new, you'll give in.)
NBI operatives are pointing to theft as the original motive behind Kae's death. Her cellphones and about P3,000 in cash were taken from her. Her car, which was found in Las Pinas last weekend, was going to be sold by her killers but the plan didn't push through because the car was already being monitored by authorities.
Kae's killers tried to burn down the car, but failed. She was not targeted, Mendez said. "Na-tsamba lang (Just a stroke of luck)," he added. The group saw Kae's car enter her village in Las Piñas and decided to rob her then and there.
She was gagged and stabbed, Decimo said, because Kae saw the face of someone in the group.
Kae's parents, Overseas Filipino Workers Peddy and Beth Davantes, are still in the country but opted to course all communication through Vince. Peddy, Kae's father, will be flying back to Saudi Arabia on September 25. Her mother Beth will be staying until after Kae's 40th day of death.
Her untimely death made headlines last week, prompting the President himself to offer a P2 million reward for information that would lead to her killers. The President himself asked for updates on Davantes' case Saturday morning, said Mendez.
Despite the relatively speedy developments in the case, the Davantes family is realistic. "This is only half of the struggle, dadaan pa ito sa korte kung saan isku-scrutinize lahat ng ebidensiya." (This will still have to pass the courts where all evidence will have to be scrutinized.) -Rappler.com