July 14, 2024

A security guard has been arrested in a joint operation by the Lipa City Police and local operatives in Victoria, Oriental, Mindoro after he was identified as the suspect in the rape-slay of De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) BS Legal Management senior, Fidex Therese Maranan, May 21.

Jorge Benedicto, 24, was a security guard in Miracle Heights Subdivision, Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City where the victim resided in.

Jorge Benedicto, a security guard at Miracle Heights, Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City was arrested
for the rape-slay of DLSL student Fidex Maranan, May 21. (Photo by Ericka Nieto)

In a press conference at the Batangas Police Provincial Office, Police Colonel Atty. Edwin Quilates, Batangas provincial director, said that the investigation focused on Benedicto after his suspicious disappearance and failure to report for duty prior to the discovery of Maranan’s body.

Lipa City Chief Police Lieutenant Colonel (COP-PLTCOL) Ramon Balauag disclosed details about when the crime was determined in Maranan’s own house. (Photo by Erika Nieto)

“Flight is an evidence of guilt. Among the persons of interests who [were] invited by the Lipa City Police station, only Jorge Benedicto was not present, so we initiated a series of follow-up investigations,” Quilates said.

Marvin Opeña, another security guard who was off-duty at the time of the incident also told the police in a sworn statement that at 9:30 p.m. on May 15 during a drinking session, Opeña was asked by the suspect to accompany him to rape the victim. Opeña refused and quarrelled with Benedicto.

Other guards of the subdivision also identified Benedicto as the figure in a CCTV footage seen casually walking near the crime scene at 11 p.m. and again at 1:15 a.m. of the following day.

Further inquiries by the police also portrayed Benedicto as a drug user and an abusive domestic partner.

“Sinubject na rin namin [siya] sa drug test [at] inaantay pa yung result. But it [was] the live-in partner [na nagsabing] user siya. In fact, yung live-in nga niya ay victim ng domestic violence kaya […] ito ang nag-cause ng cooperation niya sa police,” said Quilates.    

Quilates added that the DNA result from the crime laboratory revealed that the swab from the suspect matched the bloodstains and other specimens from the crime scene.

Monsignor Ruben Dimaculangan, a parish priest of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the uncle of the victim, was present during the conference and issued a statement from their family that they are firmly against the implementation of the death penalty for heinous crimes despite of what happened to his niece. 

Monsignor Ruben Dimaculangan, uncle of the victim, said that they remain firm against the death penalty. (Photo by Joshua Perez)

“Hindi po makakatulong sa aming pamilya ang kamatayan ng salarin […] Tunay po na ang death penalty ay isang deterrent. Mapipigilan, tatakutin ang mga nagbabalak manggahasa at pumatay, pero binu-brutalize po nito ang society,” Dimaculangan said.

Dimaculangan added that the death penalty might allow for innocent people to be unjustly punished for crimes they did not commit  and make it impossible for the punishment to be reversed.

You cannot bring life back especially when there is miscarriage of justice,” said Dimaculangan.

Maranan was found dead inside her bedroom on Friday, May 17. Medico legal findings also confirmed that the cause of death was the blunt force trauma in the head and stab wounds in the neck. Genital examination also revealed lacerations and blood clotting indicating that the victim was sexually assaulted.

Maranan was laid to rest at Eternal Gardens, Lipa City on Wednesday, May 22.

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