The family of the missing Jovelyn Galleno has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own investigation in the case, after expressing concerns about the direction of a probe separately being done by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
On Saturday morning, a team from NBI Palawan went to the location in Pulang Lupa, Barangay Sta. Lourdes, where a self-confessed suspect, Leobert Dasmariñas, on August 23 led the police to skeletal remains and personal items that belonged to Jovelyn. Earlier, Dasmariñas reportedly confessed to police investigators that he and Jobert Valdestamon, a first cousin of the victim, raped and murdered Jovelyn, a claim that the family had declined to accept as true.
During their visit to the site, NBI agents were presented by additional skeletal remains allegedly discovered by the Galleno family’s neighbors. The remnants appear to be from the spinal column and ribcage of a person.
Her family also showed the NBI agents Jovelyn’s personal belongings, which included ID cards, wallets, and other items. A letter from suspect Dasmariñas’ father to Sen. Raffy Tulfo was included as well.
According to Cedric Caabay, special investigator III of NBI Palawan, they will assist in the investigation of the missing person case in order to expedite its resolution. The family reportedly went to their office on August 15 to formally seek their help.
“Prior sa pag-file ng complaint ng pamilya ni Jovelyn ay nag conduct na rin kami ng parallel investigation noong pumutok ang isyu na ito. Itong August 15, formal silang nag complain dito sa ating tanggapan, kaya po binigyan na natin ng mas atensyon yong kanilang reklamo,” Caabay said Sunday, August 28, to Palawan News.
“Hanggang sa ngayon, patuloy ang pag conduct natin ng investigation,” he added.
The NBI had already marked and cordoned off the precise locations at the crime scene in Pulang Lupa where the bone fragments had been found and given to them by the residents.
He said they will request for an expert in crime scene investigation to come to Puerto Princesa to assess the site for possible leads.
He also explained that statements will be obtained from the Galleno family and other individuals who have information that can aid in their investigation.
“Magre-request tayo ng expert from NBI Manila para personal nilang ma-examine ang mga ebidensya na nakuha natin sa crime scene. At the same time, sila na rin ang mga mag-e-extract ng samples–swab or buhok sa magulang–at sa iba pang concerned personalities,” he added.
The samples will be sent to the NBI’s forensic chemistry division for DNA examination.
Jonalyn Galleno, the missing person’s younger sister, stated that they simply wanted a thorough and fair investigation into the case and see the NBI Palawan as an institution that can help them in their ongoing search.
She said her family is still confused about what happened on August 23, especially since they were only informed about the “operation” around 4 a.m., when the remains and her sister’s personal possessions had already been “packed.”
She reiterated that her family was perplexed as to why the police investigators did not coordinate with them while searching for the remains in the area.
“Una pa lang, hindi na kami kumpiyansa. Gusto lang namin ng patas na imbestigasyon para sa peace of mind na rin namin,” Jonalyn said.
“Yun po yung ipinagtataka namin. Wala po kami during the operation. Tinawag na lang kami para ipakita yung gamit na lang pero yung mga kalansay po wala na po nakaligpit na,” she told Palawan News.
Jonalyn also stated that the pants and underwear shown to them did not belong to her sister. The pants’ size is also too small for Jovelyn.
“At saka yung sa suot po negative po lahat yun. Pantalon hindi sa kanya, underwear hindi sa kanya pati yung foam (bra) magkaiba pa nga po yun eh yung size (bra). Hindi nga po [siya gumagamit ng ganoon,] tapos yung panty po high waist eh ung ate ko po yung ginagamit niya kahit tingnan niyo po yung mga gamit niya panty short po ang ginagamit ng ate ko. Yung pantalon po masyado maliit sa kanya parang katawan ko po yung ginamit para maging basis nila eh malaki po yung ate ko,” she said further.
According to one of the residents in the area who asked not to be named, a black pick-up truck was seen at around 1 p.m. on August 22 near the area where the skeletal remains were discovered.
“May mga bata pa ngang nakakita sa kanila na may bumaba doon sa mismong lugar pero naka penlight lang mga pa 7 [ng gabi ng August 22]. Tapos noong kinaumagahan ng madaling araw, pumutok na yung balita na mayroong ano dyan,” the resident said.
Dasmariñas a fall guy?
Jonalyn said she doubted Dasmariñas, who goes by the alias “Padong”, to be a perpetrator of the alleged rape-slaying of her sister Jovelyn.
“May naging karelasyon kasi siya na pinsan namin, siguro yon yong binasehan ng mga pulis. Pero yon gusto talaga nila kasi mga bata pa lang sila magkalapit na sila. Yon yong kinuwento niya sa amin, umiiyak siya sa amin eh, kasi nakokonsensya siya,” she explained.
Jonalyn said Dasmariñas also helped them in looking for Jovelyn when she vanished on August 5.
Even his siblings do not believe that he would murder her sister, she said. “Sabi niya pa nga yong girlfriend niya magpapadala ng pera, ang plano niya magpapabakod ng bahay, [kaya] ang sabi ko, kung may ginawa din talaga si Padong dapat umalis na–magpakalayu layo”.
When asked how Dasmariñas became involved in the case, Jonalyn explained to the NBI that he and their cousin Jovert Valdestamon got into a fight on the evening of August 21 that resulted in the former stabbing the latter in the back.
Dasmariñas was allegedly accused by Valdestamon of being responsible for Jovelyn’s disappearance.
“Parang na ano ba yong tenga ni Padong, nasaksak niya–tapos umamin din po siya, sumuko siya kinaumagahan, sabi niya ‘hindi kaya ng konsensya ko’,” she said.
Two days after, she said, they learned that Dasmariñas admitted to raping and murdering Jovelyn to the police.
The other suspect
In an interview on Sunday at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP), Valdestamon vehemently denied that he had anything to do with Jovelyn’s disappearance.
Previously, Dasmariñas declared that he and Valdestamon had kidnapped Jovelyn and that it was the latter who had sexually assaulted and killed her.
“Hindi po totoo yon. Ewan ko kung bakit nagawa niya sa akin yon. Hindi ko rin alam kung bakit kaya niya rin akong patayin na wala naman akong gaanong atraso sa kanya,” said Valdestamon.
He claimed that on the night prior to the discovery of Jovelyn’s skeletal remains, he and Dasmariñas fought over the latter’s alleged unwillingness to assist in the search for her.
“Kinontak ko siya, tapos yon nagkahamonan kami sa cellphone. Ang sabi niya sa akin, bakit daw ko siya tinatawagan, naka block daw ako sa kanya. Ang sabi ko, bakit wala kang pakialam sa pinsan natin na nawawala. Hindi ka man lang nagkukusang tumulong dito,” he said.
Valdestamon said he and Dasmariñas already had a disagreement that caused him to punch him in the past.
He added that he is unsure of how Dasmariñas was able to direct the police to the location of their cousin’s personal effects and the alleged skeletal remains.
He claimed that at the time Jovelyn vanished, he was working on a construction site close to Silica Beach.
“Stay in po ako doon. Umuwi lang ako pag gusto ko, halimbawa Sabado,” he said. “Yong amo ko mismo puwedeng mag-testigo na nandoon po ako noong araw na yon,” he said.