By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is just waiting for an order from the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office to recall its earlier resolution and order the rearrest of the primary suspect in the brutal killing of 16-year-old Christine Silawan two weeks ago.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), who takes the lead in the on-going investigation of the case, has already filed a motion for reconsideration on the resolution released by the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutors Office which allowed the 17-year-old suspect to be freed due to technicalities.
“The PNP is on standby and ready to effect the arrest as soon as the Court grants the motion filed by the NBI or if the Court issues a warrant of arrest,” Police Colonel Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, told the Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.
Asked whether an initial communication has already materialized between the PNP and the Lapu-Lapu City prosecutor’s office, Banac said, “Wala pa sa ngayon (None as of the moment.)
President Duterte ordered on Tuesday the rearrest of the suspect in the gruesome killing after claiming he called the prosecutor handling the case to recall the resolution that was earlier issued.
“Sabi ko (I said) ‘Recall the decision, have the guy re-arrested,'” Duterte was quoted as saying in a campaign rally of the PDP-Laban in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
“Hindi ako papayag na ganunin mo lang ang tao especially oppression. Patayin mo ang bata, balatan mo tapos magsibat ka lang? (I will not allow it especially if its oppression. You killed the child, skinned her, and you are just freed?),” he added.
The Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office issued a resolution last Friday, March 22, to free the former boyfriend of Silawan who was tagged as the primary suspect in the killing.
In its resolution, the prosecutor’s office said the arresting team failed to justify the warrant-less arrest of the suspect since the operation cannot be considered as a product of a hot pursuit.
The suspect was arrested by the NBI in Lapu-Lapu City on March 16, days after Silawan’s body was found in a vacant lot in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on March 11.
According to the NBI, they retrieved CCTV footages showing the suspect and victim walking along a road near where the teen’s body was found.
Authorities added that they recovered garments from the suspect with blood stains.
The suspect, however, had denied he killed the victim. He had been turned over to the Lapu-Lapu City social welfare office but was freed on March 23, the day Silawan was buried.
But Duterte contradicted the resolution saying that the operation could still be considered a hot pursuit.
“Imposible ang hot pursuit na 24 hours lang (A hot pursuit that only lasts for 24 hours is impossible). Six days, it’s still hot pursuit,” he was quoted as saying.
In Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, a hot pursuit operation is described as the attempt to arrest a person who, based on the police’s personal knowledge of facts or circumstances and with probable cause, is considered a suspect in an offense that has just been committed.
The PNP earlier announced that the case has already been solved with the identification and arrest of the suspect.
However, they cannot consider it as closed yet since two more suspects to the case are being hunted up to this day.