09 April 2012

Where's the Rest of the Suspects?

Court of Appeals
Early last month (February 2012), the Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the conviction by Parañaque City regional trial court of two cousins in the rape and killing of De La Salle University graduate Claudine Mabel Feliciano in 2001.

In a 39-page decision, the CA's 10th Division upheld the guilty verdict and the sentence of life imprisonment on Nieves Constancio and his cousin, Ernesto Berry, for the abduction, rape and murder of Feliciano, whose body was found abandoned at a creek under the bridge of San Antonio Valley 3 Subdivision in Parañaque City on 11 March 2001.

The CA also affirmed the RTC's order for the accused to jointly pay the heirs of Feliciano the amount of PhP 245,000 as actual and moral damages. It dismissed the two men's petition appealing the RTC's findings.

All these developments in the case are well and good, but the question is, where's the rest of the suspects? Are the authorities satisfied with the court's affirmation or they are still doing overtime to put all perpetrators to justice?

In any case, by affirming the lower court's verdict, the CA gave credence to the testimony of prosecution witnesses, particularly tricycle driver Chito Arana and fastfood service crewmember Janette Bales.

Court records show that Feliciano went to a mall in Alabang with her friends to watch a movie on March 11, 2001 but failed to return home. Her car was found abandoned in Makati City.

Arana testified that while he was plying his route, he saw Feliciano's black Mazda in the early morning of March 11, 2001 parked at the bridge of San Antonio Valley with five men on board. He then saw two of the men alight from the car carrying something they threw from the bridge.

Arana said he was able to identify the two men as Constancio and Berry because there was a light coming from a nearby lamppost and the car’s windows were open halfway.

Bales, on the other hand, testified that the group of Constancio and Berry tried to kidnap her using Feliciano's car at around 3:00 A.M. on 12 March 2001 while she was at a gasoline station in front of Multinational Village, Parañaque City waiting for a ride home after work.

Berry, who was arrested two weeks after the crime, confessed that he was indeed with the group of Constancio when Feliciano was abducted, raped and killed and when Bales was almost kidnapped the following night.