5 Maguindanao victims ‘raped’

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FIVE of the female victims of the Maguindanao massacre tested positive for seminal fluid indicating they could have been sexually abused by their killers before they were shot dead, officials said yesterday.

“Five of the six slain women examined by my men tested positive for the presence of semen, a presumptive evidence they were raped,” said PNP Crime Laboratory director Chief Supt. Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr.

He identified them as Rahima Palawan, Lea Dalmacio, Miriam Calumbol and Mercy Palabrica and Cecille Lechoncito. Dalmacio was a staffer of Socsargen News. A sixth female victim identified as Cynthia Oyon is still being examined by Crime Lab experts as of yesterday.

The six were among the 37 victims of the November 23 carnage examined by the Crime Lab. The 20 others including the wife and two sisters of Buluan, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu were examined by a female expert from the National Bureau of Investigation upon the request from the local official who this week filed his certificate of candidacy for the Maguindanao gubernatorial post.

Supt. Ruby Grace Diangson, chief of the Crime Lab’s Medico-Legal Office, said most of the female victims turned out to have sustained genital injuries while they were still alive.

She said that the victims were subjected to a test to determine the presence of acid phosphatase. “It was a test aimed at determining enzymes of seminal fluid and all tested positive for acid phosphatase or what we call semen in layman’s term,” Diangson said.

“Mrs. Lechoncito had injuries on her genitalia and we believe there was penetration during that time as her pants were pulled down when she was found. There were also presumptive evidence of sexual abuse on the four other victims since there were bruising on the side of their genitalia which is another indication of sexual penetration,” Diangson said.

The Crime Lab findings bolstered initial reports that some of the female victims were raped on top of the hoods of their vehicles by the gunmen before they were shot dead.

The two officials said they have to conduct DNA test on the victims as part of the continuing investigation since two of the women are married and possibly had contact with their husbands prior to the massacre. “We will ask the husbands of the two victims to submit a sample of their DNA as part of our investigation,” Cacdac said.

The officials said the killers were so brutal that they even shot Lechoncito in the mouth. Chief Inspector Dean Cabrera, also a Crime Lab medico-legal officer said all indications show that the killer forced his gun into the mouth of Lechoncito before squeezing the trigger.

Meanwhile, Police will return to the gravesite in Ampatuan, Maguindanao to look for a possible 58th victim.

Cacdac said only three of the 37 victims they have autopsied are yet to be released to their respective families.

“We have a problem since four separate families are laying claim to the three bodies. So, it appears there is a fourth person missing,” he said.

The supposed 58th missing person is said to be another journalist.

Lawyer Harry Roque, a member of the Commission on Human Rights’ parallel independent fact-finding body said his team is looking for a possible 58th victim in one of the two mass graves dug by the killers believed to be led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. in Barangay Salman.