Just as Christine Silawan was laid to rest, the murder suspect accused of killing and mutilating her was released from custody on a technicality.
Lawyer Vincent Isle filed a motion to release the 17-year-old suspect because he was arrested without a warrant. The city prosecutor ordered the release at 5pm yesterday (Friday, March 22) because “hot pursuit” was no longer applicable.
At 12.45pm today — just as Christine’s funeral was taking place — he was transferred to a safe house for his security.
The 16-year-old victim’s family expressed shock and surprise at the decision. Speaking at the funeral today, her aunt, Fermina Silawan Garcia, said: “We don’t know anything about that. Was he released by the NBI?”
Christine’s mother Lourdes was unable to comment, as she had become overcome by grief and lost consciousness.
The aunt added: “We’re really saddened if they released him. I hope they will hold the release and let due process takes its course or else we never get any justice for Christine’s death.”
Murder charges were filed against the teenager, said to be an ex-boyfriend, on Monday. The NBI anchored the complaint on circumstantial evidence such as messages between the victim and the suspect.
Due to his age, the murder suspect was placed in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Grief at funeral
Police estimated that about 1,000 people joined the funeral rites in Cordova Town today.
As well as friends, family and neighbours of Christine, many people unrelated to her turned out to show their solidarity with the family.
Among them was Leonidisa Flores, 71, who said: “I bore the heat just so I could attend the funeral and wish for justice for Christine, that her murderer will be caught.”
Christine was found stabbed to death and horribly mutilated after a church service on March 11. Part of her face had been cut off, exposing her skull. Her tongue, oesophagus and trachea had also been “meticulously removed“.
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