2 teenagers file charges vs. rape suspect; lawyer: client is presumed innocent

Bukidnon State University students carry placards during a symposium on women and children protection at the BSU gymnasium on March 9. It was done in time for the International Women’s Day and as an indignation of the series of rape incidents involving students. The rape suspect was arrested on March 3.
Bukidnon News photo
MALAYBALAY CITY  – Two teen-age complainants have lodged charges against a man they accused of allegedly raping them in separate incidents in January and February, while its possible there are more victims out there, Oliver Owen Garcia, lead counsel for the victims, told radio station DXBU Friday.
Garcia, a former provincial board member, appealed for the other victims to come out and defy fear. Garcia, joined by two lady lawyers in the case, including Ophelia Pilar Rubio, said “they will definitely pursue the case”.
Identified by one of the complainants, the suspect Gene L. Diaz, a resident of Brgy. Violeta, this city is facing charges for rape, cruelty to minors, and illegal possession of firearms before the sala of Regional Trial Court 10 Branch 8 Judge Dennis Alcantar.
Diaz, who was arrested around 9p.m.on March 3 near the Caracol Building, was detained since March 8 at the Malaybalay City Jail. Police Supt. Oscar Jacildo, city police chief, told reporters a court decision was issued disallowing any bail for the suspect as his charges are heinous crimes.
In their affidavits, “Mia” and “Lily” (not their real names) identified Diaz as the one who tricked them separately into his car after a pair of questions, and eventually raped them inside. Diaz, armed with a gun and a video camera, offered allowances in exchange for future meetings and threatened them death or embarrassment if they will resist or report the incident.
Diaz was arrested on March 2 after “Mia,” who was assaulted on February 22, saw him near the Caracol Building as she was out with friends and an uncle. She recognized the suspect emerging from the building and immediately confronted him. After a verbal exchange, Diaz slapped her until responding policemen arrived. They were brought to the police station, where it was found out that the victim filed a rape complaint against a man, who allegedly turned out to be Diaz.
Police found two pistols in his possession including bullets. They also found a capsule sex enhancer and a sex toy dubbed “rambutan” along with a white blanket and papers inside his Toyota Hilux vehicle.
Lily, another student, was allegedly raped barely a month earlier.
The case drew public uproar and support from different sectors, who expressed fear that the suspect, who belonged to a prominent family, might be able to post bail and evade the case.
The Malaybalay City government has expressed support in providing legal assistance for the victims. Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri said the city government is signing a memorandum of agreement with the FIDA, an association of local lady lawyers.
At a symposium Friday afternoon at Bukidnon State University, Dr. Reyna Amba, BSU high school principal assured students that the university is 100 percent supporting the victims, providing them with legal counsels and other forms of assistance.
But Amba appealed for consideration for the victims who have continued attending classes.
“Respect the victims in their silence. Treat them like your ordinary classmates. Be considerate, be kind,” she said.
Meanwhile, Isidro Caracol, counsel for the defense said the suspect has denied the allegations. He appealed for the public not to pre-judge as the suspect also has a family.
“He is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he added.
Caracol invoked Diaz’ right to remain silent, to obtain the services of the lawyer of his choice and other constitutional rights as an accused in a phone interview with Bukidnon News.
He however asked the media not to focus on the case and instead report more on “good deeds”.
The alleged failure of the church, the school, and the community, he said, are behind the occurrence of rape and other crimes in the community.
But supporters hold their ground, highlighting the rights of women and children.
“There is a great need for different sectors to monitor the case,” said Sr. Lydia Perejan, representing the religious sector among the groups supporting the victims. The groups were initially worried Diaz could obtain temporary freedom as he could bail for the two other charges.
A BSU gender sensitivity advocate said preventive measures are still best for women who she said are prone to sexual assaults. She said Malaybalay’s interesting crime statistics has worsened over the years even if she admitted that the increase in crime volume is part of the “costs of development.”
BSU students held a campus indignation rally that ended in the symposium where women’s desk police officer Warlika Sadang gave an orientation on the protection of children and women in time for the International Women’s Day.
Some students carried placards bearing calls like “women deserve respect” and “stop women trafficking.” (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)
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