Philippines: The Death of a Rebel’s Daughter

Justice for Rebelyn Pitao: Photo by Toto LozanoOn the night of March 5, 2009, two armed men abducted Rebelyn Pitao, a 20 year old teacher from the southern Philippine city of Davao. The next day, her dead body was found in a neighboring town, bearing ice pick stab wounds, signs of torture, and most likely rape.

While Rebelyn was the daughter of Lenicio Pitao, a rebel leader of the communist New People’s Army, her mother claimed that Rebelyn was not involved in her father's activities.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who remains hounded by allegations of human rights violations in its war against the rebels, has denied military involvement in the abduction and murder of Rebelyn.

Many are outraged by the heinous crime. It has drawn not a few reactions in the Philippine blogging community, including a poem by E. San Juan, Jr., a Filipino public intellectual and cultural critic.

Rebelyn would have celebrated her 21st birthday this 20th of March. She could have done more in the service of the community as a teacher if not for her untimely death, writes Norma Dollaga.

Marry Anne's Musings express her sympathy for the victim and her loved ones.

I don't know Rebelyn Pitao personally but I was moved when I learned what has happened to her, when they found her body in a creek clad only with underwear, bore several stabs wounds. And her hands were tied and her mouth was bound with masking tape, fueling speculations she was tortured and sexually assaulted. I as a mother will do her best to protect her children, to do not let them be harm in this cruel world, to get hurt triple times when my daughters are in pain. My deepest sympathy to the Mom of Rebelyn and condolences to the family.

That Word in Me is angered by the incessant disregard for the value and sanctity of human life.

Never mind that she was the daughter of a rebel; a rebel who the government has failed time and again to capture; who has had a string of battlefield victories under his Command against the military and the government.

What infuriates me, what really, really infuriates me is the fact that something so heinous and monstrous was done to an innocent person. Was it her fault that she was her father’s daughter? Was it her fault that her father has eluded capture all these years? What has she got to do with all these?

The gruesome killing points to the sad state of human rights in the country, writes veteran journalist Ding Gagelonia.

We are supposed to be living in a democracy with the Bill of Rights a cornerstone of the Republic.

But what has just happened to 20-year-old Rebelyn Pitao tells us otherwise.

Who killed Rebelyn, Gagelonia further asks? Many, like Musings of a Random Mind, attribute the abduction and slaying to the military.

if it’s not the elements in the military, then who would have the capacity and motivation to kidnap and murder a young woman whose only “crime” was being the daughter of a rebel leader? human rights watch reported last year that the number of extra-judicial killings in the philippines have increased significantly after president gloria arroyo declared an “all-out war” against the new people’s army in 2006.

president gloria arroyo has ordered a probe into the killing so that the murderers can be punished. judging from the results of previous investigations of this nature, however, nothing much can be expected from an administration perceived to be the most corrupt in philippine history.

Father Amado Picaradal, a priest and peace activist, laments the persistence of a “culture of death” in the country.

Over 25 years ago, the killing of suspected subversives and criminals were a common occurence. I was hoping that it would be a thing in the past with the fall of the Marcos dictatorial rule. Today it continues in Davao. There is a death squad that assassinates suspected criminals and there is also another group abducts and kills not only suspected rebels but also their relatives. This is another manifestation of the culture of death and the spiral of violence in our land.


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