Gang rape of volunteer nurse ignites outrage

Posted at 09/30/10 10:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine nursing industry is up in arms over the case of a volunteer nurse who was raped by 6 men in South Upi, Maguindanao last Saturday.

Teresita Barcelo, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), said their members are very angry with what happened to the volunteer nurse.

"Galit na galit. Hindi siya talaga suwelduhan. Tinatanggap ito para makatulong sa mga kababayan sa remote rural area. Paano naman ang aming seguridad?" Barcelo said in an interview on ABS-CBN morning show "Umagang Kay Ganda."

Sulaik said that the gang rape could have happened inside the premises of the South Upi municipal hospital.

She said the victim attended a gathering of volunteers of the government’s Nurses Assistance for Rural Services (Nars) program and was on her way to the nurse’s quarters, also inside the hospital compound, when she was snatched by the suspects.

Dr. Tahir Sulaik, provincial health officer of Maguindanao, said the volunteer nurse is currently confined at a hospital in Cotabato City but needs to be transferred to Davao for better medical attention.

Sulaik said the victim's neck has hematoma, indicating that the rapists tried to strangle her. "There were signs of strangulation.. Ang biktima hanggang ngayon ay hindi makausap. Hindi pa conscious," he said.

The volunteer nurse was found behind the South Upi munipal hospital on Sunday. Initial reports said the nurse was half naked and her face battered when she was found.

"Sirang-sira ang mukha. Noong makita hindi makilala. She was half naked," Sulaik added.

Suspects from prominent families?

Barcelo said that the PNA has put up a Facebook account for the raped nurse, and several nurses and supporters have expressed anger over the incident.

She said that the nurse belongs to a very poor family. The PNA’s officials have agreed to initially provide the nurse’s family with P10,000 financial assistance.

“Gusto talaga namin ay matulungan na to put to justice kung sino ang mga gumawa nito. Ang kinakatakot dito baka ma-whitewash,” she said, citing reports that the 6 suspects arrested for the gang rape belong to influential families.

Police have identified the 6 suspects as Michael Calendario, Jeffrey Fernandez, Glen Saldua, Roscon Sanglap, Darwin Escalona and Eugene Biscarra.

Superintendent Jack Malinao Jr., chief of the regional police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said that the South Upi municipal police station has filed rape cases against the suspects.

Police Inspector Reny Valdesco, South Upi Maguindanao chief of police, earlier said an initial investigation showed that the victim was abused after reportedly having a drinking spree with the 6 men.

The 6 suspects have denied raping the victim.

The owner of the videoke bar, Reynalbert Insular, supported the suspects’ statements and claimed to know the people who were with the victim before the rape occurred.

He said the 6 helped him bring the victim to a hospital.

Malinao said that the rape case is now being handled by a special task group formed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao regional police office.

He said that the task group is now reviewing the evidence and testimonies gathered by the municipal police to strengthen the case filed against the 6 suspects.

Malinao assured that the police will pursue the case against the suspects even if they belong to prominent families.

“Kung sino man ang tatamaan, prominente o hindi, if ever may evidence that would link up sa mga taong ito, we wil lnot think twice na i-include sila sa charge,” he said.

He said that the task group is now in the process of reconstructing the events that took place before the rape.