Death of 2 female preachers pinned on 2 lawmen


BATANGAS: Two policemen in the sleepy town of Balete here are now in hot water after being tagged as allegedly responsible for the death of two female preachers of the Christian group Jesus is Lord (JIL) on August 6.

Batangas police deputy director for operations Police Supt. Isagani Fetizanan said Police Officer 3 (PO3) Jose Rico Benitez and PO2 Mhelven Pagkaliwangan, both members of the Balete police station have been relieved from their post and ordered to report at Camp Miguel Malvar Provincial Police Office for an administrative investigation.

Benitez and Pagkaliwangan are being questioned in relation to the death of Adelaida Fabricante, 46, of Barangay Palsara and Leonila Cafe, 48, of Barangay Sala, both in Balete town.

An initial incident report released by the Balete police said that Fabricante and Cafe were victims of a hit-and-run, their lifeless bodies were found sprawled along the barangay road in Barangay Makina on August 6 around 8:30 p.m.

However, Mayor Jovencio Hidalgo of Balete ordered a reinvestigation on the case when thousands of residents in their town flocked in front of the municipal hall last Saturday, condemning the brutal death of Fabricante and Cape.

Hidalgo said several witnesses volunteered to give their statements linking the two policemen in the death of the two female preachers.

“A lot of JIL members have given their testimonies saying that the two victims were last seen alive boarding a police mobile,” Hidalgo said.

The two victims had just come from a JIL prayer meeting in Barangay Magape when they decided to hitch a ride with the police to return to their respective barangays.

Hidalgo sought the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, who in turn, made a separate investigation on the case along with her team of lawyers and medico-legal doctors.

“Based on the autopsy conducted by PAO, both victims were struck using a hard object hitting their head, back, face, and marks on their legs revealing that they were punched. They also found strangulation marks on the neck,” Hidalgo narrated.

Hidalgo said another witness had surfaced and narrated how he personally saw the mobile car of the police dumping the bodies of the two victims in the middle of the road.

Asked what was the possible motive of the suspects in killing the two preachers—“The policemen were drunk and it is possible that they wanted to take advantage of the victims but the women resisted,” Hidalgo said.

Meanwhile, both Benitez and Pagkaliwangan denied the allegations saying the victims never boarded their mobile.

The filing of appropriate charges at the Provincial Prosecutors Office in Batangas are now being prepared against the two police men.

Both victims were buried last Sunday and was attended by thousands of their townmates asking for justice.

Tina Ganzon


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