Serial killings put focus on racism, economic inequality in Cyprus

Published May 5, 2019, 6:58 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Roy Mabasa 

Days after the gruesome murder of four Filipino women and three other foreign nationals was unraveled in Cyprus, concerns about alleged police ineptitude or indifference reverberated in recent vigils held in the capital Nicosia for the victims of what was believed to be the first case of serial killings in the tiny Mediterranean nation.

For two consecutive Fridays, people gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Nicosia to protest the government’s handling of the serial killings of mostly foreign domestic helpers.

In one social media post, organizers deplored what they called as “racism” and economic inequality as among the possible factors that allowed the suspect, a 35-year-old and member of the National Guard, to go on a killing spree for about two and a half years even after the first victim was already reported missing.

The suspect, whose name was being withheld by authorities in Cyprus, admitted killing the five missing foreign women and two of their daughters.

It was the chance discovery of 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio’s body in a mineshaft on April 14 that led authorities to conduct a full-blown investigation.

State-run Cyprus News Agency identified another Filipina victim as Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 31.

Earlier, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades vowed to scrupulously investigate what he called the “abhorrent murders” and the “actions or failures” of police in following up on cases of missing persons.

It was reported that many Filipinos working as household workers in that country have experienced discrimination and exploitation. There are more or less 14,000 Filipinos either working or living in Cyprus.

Civil rights advocate Lissa Jataas told journalists in Nicosia that many workers keep their grievances to themselves for “fear of being deported.”

Last week, the Philippine Consulate in Cyprus said they were closely monitoring the progress of the investigation and expressed its readiness to provide assistance to the victims’ families if needed.