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It is a humid, cloudless Monday evening, the 28th of June, 1993.
Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez are on their way home. Earlier in the day, they attended their classes at the University of the Philippine at Los Baños, a town in Laguna province, where they are studying agriculture. Presently, they are in the front passenger seats of a Toyota Tamaraw van parked in front of Café Amalia, a restaurant in Agrix Complex, a sprawling area just a distance away from the university compound. As is the case, the van, which serves as a public utility transport vehicle, lies in wait until it is fully occupied by commuters.
But the young pair’s journey back home is suddenly disrupted.
Six armed men suddenly appear from nowhere. They then head straight to the stationary Toyota. What ensues next is brief and precise: Eileen and Allan are dragged out, then forcibly brought back inside the vehicle. This time, the two UP students find themselves seated at the backseat. Immediately, they are gagged and their hands tied. In a minute, the Tamaraw, commandeered by the armed men, is speeding out of the Complex area. Trailing the van is an ambulance where the armed men had ridden in going to the Complex.
Eventually, the convoy reaches its destination: a farm located in a neighboring barangay. It is a privately-owned farm which is used by its owner as a sanctuary for relaxation, a hiding place away from the topsy-turvy world where he belongs.
As soon as the two vehicles have arrived, the men inside climb out, bringing out their captives. The pair of youngsters now out of the vehicle, a mop-haired man emerges from one of the resthouses in the farm to meet them. He is the owner of the farm, one of the various properties he owns.
“My children, what’s the problem?” says the farm-owner to the gathered assembly.
“Mayor, this is our gift to you, the girl you’ve been longing for.” The reply is made by one of the armed men in a wicked voice.
“She’s really beautiful,” the Mayor replies, his mean, slick eyes fixed on the young lady. “But,” he next breathes, “who’s that man?” His gaze is now focused on Allan. Earlier, before his men had arrived, the Mayor was worried sick, thinking that they would not be able to bring their “gift” to him.
“Eileen’s companion, Boss,” butts in another. “We brought him along to avoid complications,” he says, his voice tinged with caution.
It is in the resthouse where the Mayor is staying where the hapless UP students are brought. Once inside, Eileen is taken to the Mayor’s room. Then four of the armed men take turns in subjecting Allan to severe physical beating. The ordeal now over, Allan is brought out of the resthouse. Still not contented, one of the armed men, using the butt of an armalite rifle, gives the now weak and dazed Allan a sharp blow in the body, causing the young man to fall onto a concrete slab. “His death will come later,” mutters the armalite-wielding man to his companion who is wondering whether Allan is already dead.
Hours pass by.
The time is one o’clock in the morning. Two men drag the young woman out of the resthouse. By now, Eileen’s appearance is a mess. Her hair is disheveled, her hands still tied and she is stripped of the shorts she has been wearing. She is crying massively through the handkerchief that is tied on her mouth.
Moments later, the Mayor comes out of the resthouse. He wants to give his thoughts to his faithful, reliable men before they depart. After thanking the two men for their “gift” to him, the Mayor, wearing an immaculate white polo, addresses the pair. “I am through with her. She’s all yours.” On inquiry, he is told by one of his men that Eilleen’s companion will be “dealt with” accordingly.
Then, the youngsters are loaded again inside the Toyota vehicle, which begins to roll away, trailed by the ambulance. They are heading to Calauan, another town in Laguna. Along the way, the van begins to sway, evident of an activity of strong movements inside. Soon, a gunfire breaks the early morning silence. The Tamaraw then makes a sudden halt. One of the men bursts out, dragging the lifeless Allan—his head now soaked in blood—out into the darkened road. In a split second, the man aims his armalite rifle at the prostrate Allan and riddles him with another bullet.
The convoy resumes its journey. They are headed to a place where they can begin their own party with the Mayor’s “gift” to them.
Sitio Paputok, Kilometro 74 is located in Barangay Mabacan, one of the barangays in the town of Calauan. It is in a sugarcane field located in that sitio where the convoy pulls up. “Turbohin na rin natin ang tinurbo ni Boss,” announces one of the men. There is an instant unanimity of response that meets up the declaration.
Not for long, Eileen is brought out of the vehicle. Forced to lie at the rear part of the van, Eileen’s hands and legs are held down on the car floor by the strong grip of the men’s collective might.
Then the gang-rape commences.
All the half-dozen armed men take turns in ravishing the hapless young woman whose sobs and pleas are drowned by the maniacal, beastly growls and moaning of her defilers. By the time the last ravisher—the armalite-wielding man—finishes his assault, Eileen lies limp and motionless, in a near-death state. She, however, slowly manages to rise, settling herself in a kneeling posture on the seat of the vehicle. She starts begging her abductors to spare her life.
Again, her plea falls on deaf ears.
The captor who hears her grabs a handkerchief and rams it through her mouth, stifling her voice. Only a second lapses when the man pulls the trigger of his armalite rifle. The bullet goes through Eileen’s face, causing her instant death. The slayer then orders the ambulance driver—who has refused to take part in the wicked sexual orgy—to get rid of the young woman’s lifeless body. But the dead Eileen just remains inside the van. Her face bears the fatal gunshot wound, her mouth stuffed with handkerchief, her white shirt rolled up to her shoulders exposing her breasts and her underwear pushed down near her rubber-shoed feet.
It takes no more than a few minutes before the ambulance hits the road. They have also left behind the Toyota Tamaraw van, the vehicle that has silently witnessed the rape and slaying of Mary Eileen Sarmenta.
Later that morning, some of the men regroup; they are riding in the ambulance heading to some destination. They go first to Barangay Imok on the pretense of conducting an operation. On reaching the place, they see a dead body—that of Allan Gomez’s. They alight, inspecting the dead man. Then, the ambulance speeds off upon orders of one of the men who have decided to stay put. The ambulance driver has been tasked to make an immediate “report” to the Calauan Municipal Hall about the discovery of the dead body of an unidentified young man.
At that very same time, one of the abductor-rapist-killers is also at the municipal hall making a report to a cop of another discovery of a dead person—this time, a young woman found inside an abandoned Toyota Tamaraw van. The cop who receives the report—he is also one of the abductor-rapist-killers—then makes a radio call to the town’s police chief.
Upon their “receipt” of the information, the men who are at Barangay Imok leave and proceed to Barangay Mabacan where the dead Eileen has been found. One of them “expresses pity” at the sight of the dead female body; he shrouds it with a sackcloth. Then, they escort the van to the UP Los Baños police station. It is there where the dead youngsters are reunited, and after they are identified by the university students who have trooped to the station, the pair of stiff cadavers then are transported to Calauan town’s municipal hall.
Later that same day, the Mayor is visited by his men at his house in Bay, another town in the province. He is livid, castigating his visitors for not using their heads. This after the Mayor is told that members of the Criminal Investigation Service, the National Bureau of Investigation and the media have swarmed the town.
The next day, the Mayor meets the ambulance driver in the former’s sprawling home in Calauan. Their talk centers on the reports that the driver is being hunted down due to his complicity to the crime. Giving the driver two thousand bucks, the Mayor instructs his guest to clam up, or better yet, to flee their town and hide in an undisclosed place.
The driver does take off as advised. More than a month after, however, his endeavor to remain hidden is halted. It is while doing some chore in Divisoria market in Manila when the CIS agents chance on him. Some of the abductor-rapist-killers are themselves later picked up by the authorities on suspicion of involvement in the Calauan rape and twin-murder case.
Meantime, the Mayor has found himself reluctantly involved in the investigation of the case. Upon request of the CIS agents, he accompanies two of the abductor-rapist-killers—brothers Luis and Rogelio “Boy” Corcolon—to Camp Crame in Quezon City to surrender. But on August 13, 1993, just three days after the arrest of the ambulance driver, the Mayor himself—Antonio L. Sanchez—is apprehended by the law operatives in his residence in Calauan, the town he governs. At Camp Vicente Lim, Mayor Sanchez is presented to the media.
During the investigation, both the Mayor and his men make an attempt to pin the dastardly crime to one Teofilo “Kit” Alqueza, the 20-year-old son of a feared military general, Dictador Alqueza, who is known by the monicker “Barako” to the local residents. Even the presidential crime buster, Vice-President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who has intruded into the picture, joins the endeavor in accusing the young man as the alleged brains behind the despicable deed. But the collective effort fails, and Alqueza is eventually freed of suspicion.
The case enters the trial phase, and after a grueling 16-month litigation, the tough, no-nonsense lady judge who presided over the case renders her handwritten decision, convicting Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez of Calauan town, and his loyal men, the Corcolon brothers, and the four other abductor-rapist-killers, of the crime of rape with homicide on seven counts. The lady magistrate is horrified at the evidence she has unearthed during the trial, prompting her to describe the
“Allan Gomez-Eileen Sarmenta rape-slay” as “. . . a plot seemingly hatched in hell . . .”
More than just two-decades after. He will be a freed by the incumbent Duterte administration.