COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Six suspects in gang-rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi, Maguindanao province, were released Wednesday afternoon by the authorities.
Prosecutors have dropped the charges against Michael Calendario, Jeffrey Fernandez, Glen Saldua, Roscon Sanglap, Darwin Escalona, and Eugene Biscarra for lack of evidence.
Another suspect, Melchor Fulgencio, remained in jail and is facing rape with frustrated homicide charges, Maguindanao Provincial Prosecutor Akilali Balt said.
He said Fulgencio has yet to recant his confession and withdraw his initial sworn statement wherein he admitted raping the victim.
"Masaya kami, we believe in the first place na wala talagang ebidensya in regards to them," said lawyer Angelito Rasalan, the legal counsel of the 6 men.
Rasalan was given a copy of the resolution signed by the prosecutors.
He immediately went to the regional office of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to have his clients released.
Relatives of the 6 men welcomed the decision.
"Napanatag na ang kalooban ko. Yung anak ko estudyante pa. Hindi ko alam kung makakabalik pa kasi sobrang hiya eh," said a mother of one of the former suspects.
"Sobra kaming naghirap para suportahan sa mga anak namin," another said.
Fulgencio’s wife, however, criticized the prosecutors’ decision.
"Hindi ako pabor dun kasi dapat palabasin sila kung nakaharap na sila sa babae," Leycel Fulgencio said. - Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao