Parents of rape-slay victim OK DNA test

Girl could still be alive, says cop By Tina Santos, Allison Lopez
Last updated 00:16am (Mla time) 09/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines – The parents of Geraldine Palma, the 7-year-old girl who was kidnapped and raped, yesterday gave authorities the go-signal to exhume their daughter’s body and subject it to a DNA test.


“This is to erase doubts that it was not my daughter,” Gerald, the victim’s father, told reporters at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office. “Who would want to see his child dead? Sana nga hindi na lang si Geraldine yon (I wish it were not Geraldine). I wish I was wrong. But I’m 150 percent sure it was her.”


“I only hope they do it right away because her body’s already decomposing and the tests will take at least three weeks,” he added.


Gerald and his wife went to the NBI after the Manila Police District (MPD), which is also investigating the case, claimed that the body found stuffed inside a suitcase last month in North Harbor, Tondo was not that of their daughter.


Chief Insp. Alejandro Yanquiling, head of the MPD homicide division, said he suspected that Geraldine was still alive.


He based his suspicion on the records of St. Paul College, where Geraldine was enrolled, showing that the girl was 3 feet, 10 inches tall. The body inside the suitcase measured 4 feet, 2 inches.


According to Yanquiling, a mole on the the victim’s back was the Palmas’ only basis for saying that the body was that of their daughter’s.


Gerald, meanwhile, admitted that he was hurt by Yanquiling’s statements.


“It’s as if he was saying that I don’t know my own child. I know he’s just doing his job. But why only now? He should have said those things earlier. He’s starting the investigation backwards,” he said.


Felma, the victim’s mother, confirmed that at first, she had doubts that the body in the suitcase was that of her daughter because “the girl’s nose was flat.”


“But it could have been her and the features also looked different because the body was bloated. They had the same build. But it’s fine with me if they have her body dug up so that the truth will come out,” she said.


Despite the recent developments in the case, Gerald maintained that what happened was a case of kidnapping.


“I still believe it’s still a kidnapping incident unless Marites (Ontog, the girl’s nanny) shows up and reveals what really happened,” he said.


Gerald likewise denied rumors that he had his daughter insured.


“It’s not true. I’m the one who’s insured and she was one of my beneficiaries. I never thought she’d go first,” he said.


Charges have been filed against the five suspects in the Palma rape-slay case, but the city chief prosecutor said it might be dismissed if the body turns out to be someone else’s.


Manila Chief Prosecutor Jhosep Lopez said the credibility of the witnesses would suffer if they had identified the girl in the suitcase as Palma.


“It’s already with the court so it’s up to the court to decide. We based it on the evidence of the police identifying the corpse as that of Geraldine Palma’s … But I think they (accused) can file a motion to quash the information or a motion to dismiss. The court might dismiss it because there’s no case to speak of if that is not Palma’s body,” he said.


Ramil Diorico, Raffy Nepa, Renato “Rick-Rick” Bohol, Joey Igos and alleged mastermind Henry “Hemlet” Tesado had been charged with rape with homicide at the Manila Regional Trial Court. They were tagged by their supposed cohorts, Rosdam Mesias and Domingo Agnote, who turned state witnesses, and a certain “Berta.”


Lopez added that it was up to the judge to decide whether or not to dismiss the charges.


“If the witness can prove that the suspects committed a crime against the victim even though the girl found in the suitcase was not Palma, we will continue the case but amend the information,” he said.


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