DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there was no solution yet to the rape of a volunteer nurse in Maguindanao despite the confession of a militiaman, who surrendered to authorities to own up to the crime and point to another man as his accomplice.
During a visit to the victim here on Friday, De Lima said she even told police not to rule out the possible involvement of a son of a politician in the rape and assault on the volunteer nurse, who was left for dead by her attackers.
“I told police, do not rule him out yet,” De Lima told reporters here after visiting the victim at a hospital.
But De Lima said the politician’s son is not considered a suspect yet.
De Lima said the confession made by 52-year-old militiaman Melchor Fulgencio that he and a certain Edwin raped the volunteer nurse would have to be put to closer scrutiny.
She said authorities should determine if the man named Edwin even existed.
“We don’t know where he is and we don’t know if he really exists,” De Lima said.
As to the six suspects initially arrested by authorities, De Lima said there had been no evidence so far implicating them to the rape.
“I am inclined to drop the charges against the six,” she said.
De Lima said the continuing investigation would also determine the veracity of Fulgencio’s claim that there were only two of them involved in the rape.
“But if found out later on that Fulgencio is also not involved then that means the real culprits are still at large,” De Lima said.
De Lima admitted that she was deeply moved by what happened to the victim.
“Very heartbreaking,” she said of the nurse’s condition.
De Lima said the victim’s experience was so shocking that “when I asked her who did this to her, she just made a low sound and cried.”
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said Maguindanao authorities were determined to make the culprits pay for the crime.
De Lima said if the victim had recovered fully, she will be asked questions to pin down the culprits.
She said among the police’s first task when they face the victim is to show her the photos of the arrested suspects.
Groups of nurses held rallies in Manila and elsewhere to demand government action on the case of the raped volunteer nurse.
A group of nurses who marched on Don Chino Roces Bridge leading to Malacañang expressed frustration at failing to meet with top officials to press for swift action on the rape case.
Leaders of the nurses said the attack on the volunteer nurse in Maguindanao would discourage other nurses from doing rural work.
The victim was taking part in a rural program for nurses that offered minimal pay and experience that nurses need for jobs abroad.
Dennis Jay Santos, Philippine Daily Inquirer