The story quickly spreads around the town but not just because of the sensational facts of the crime involved. “17-year-old gang-raped in front of boyfriend", published on The Philippine Star last September 25, 2011, reported the gang rape by four armed men as believed that belong to the riding in tandem on a motorcycle criminals striking in Isabela and Cagayan, gang-raped a 17-year-old second year college student in the presence of her boyfriend as they held a gunpoint in Barangay Silauan Norte, Echague. Echague Isabela
The viral distribution of the story was, at least in part, because of the intense outrage it inspired among readers who thought the piece pilloried the victims.
My assessment is that the outrage is understandable. The story dealt with a hideous crime but addressed concerns about the ruined lives of the perpetrators without acknowledging the obvious: concern for the victims.
While the story appeared to focus on the governments’ action to the crime like this, it was not enough to simply report that the community is principally concerned about the victims or the criminals involved – as this story seems to do. If indeed that is the only sentiment to be found in this community – and I find that very hard to believe – it becomes important to report on that as well by seeking out voices of professional authorities or dissenting community members who will at least address, and not ignore, the plight of the young girl involved.
The story by Mr. Raymund Catindig reported that the young lovers, who were also on board a motorcycle, were reportedly on their way to the boarding house of the 17-year-old victim at around 9:30 p.m., when they stopped near a deserted public cemetery in Barangay Cabugao because the motorcycle conked out. At this juncture, the armed men on a motorcycle separated the lovers. The suspects also took the lovers’ cellular phones and money.
The story also quoted, “The boyfriend helplessly watched his girlfriend agonize as the suspects took turns raping her in a secluded grassy area along the national highway.”
Typical Waiting Shed in Echague along the Maharlika Highway
The case has rocked the Echague community to its core and left many residents in the neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, “How could these men have been drawn into such an act?”
These elements, creating an impression of concern for the perpetrators and an impression of the provocative victims, led many readers to interpret the context of the story to be: “What is the Philippine Government doing to promote the death penalty by hanging these criminals who do capital crimes such as rape.”
And no one is outraged by news like these anymore? As a result, more crimes like these will happen and our "Police" do nothing?
I found this case to be universally disturbing. To the four armed men – What if this also happens to your sister or daughter to be treated as an object? Did any in your group thought about it and stop to consider that during the crime? WTF