September 26, 2022

Authorities have asked the public to help in the ongoing investigation on the death of a 22-year-old woman who was found in an undignified state at a residential compound in A. Tabora, Trancoville barangay morning of Aug. 30.

The call came alongside the police and the city government’s appeals for the public to stop sharing the victim’s photos and spreading unverified information or speculations on social media that may lead to public disturbance, undue panic, or confusion.

The incident was met with shock and public outrage after two images of the victim left lying unclothed in the compound were posted and circulated on social media, then picked up and released by some media outfits and netizens as it was without regard to the dignity of the victim.

A media and citizens’ group found the manner of disseminating the report “disgusting as it is devoid of sensitivity.”

The Baguio Police Office identified the victim as Juliet Bajar Hesim, 22, single, and a native of Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga who was reportedly working as a guest relations officer of a night establishment along Marcos Highway.

BCPO Deputy Director for Operations, Col. John Cayat said a concerned citizen called the BCPO Station 2 in Camdas to report the discovery of the victim’s body. 

Cayat reported in a media briefing on Aug. 31 that based on initial investigation of the BCPO Station 2, the victim left her workplace around 10:30 p.m. of Aug. 29 and could no longer be reached when her sister tried to contact her that night.

She was found the next day at 6:45 a.m. in Trancoville lifeless, with her hands bound and mouth covered with duct tape and neck tied with a belt.

He said they are waiting for the victim’s autopsy report that will determine the cause of her death.

City Mayor Benjamin Magalong assured investigation of the incident is ongoing, and expects the BCPO is leaving no stones unturned to get to the bottom of the incident and arrest those responsible for the crime.

In a statement, Magalong appealed to the public to refrain from making any conclusion that may trigger unnecessary fear until investigation is over.

He also called on people to stop sharing the victim’s photos and warned the city and BCPO will go after those who will continue to do so and charge them for violation of the Revised Penal Code.

Due to the circulated photos of the victim in an undignified state on social media and while pending verification and confirmation by authorities, the Kordilyera Media-Citizen Council in a statement called on media organizations and netizens to observe prudence and sensitivity in reporting and avoid sharing unverified and unconfirmed information.

“Even in death, human dignity must be preserved. It is part of journalism ethics not to reveal the identity of victims of violence, especially women and children, either by names or photos, more so with sensitive details,” the group said in a statement.

The BCPO also asked the public to help by not spreading unverified information that may affect the ongoing investigation.

“We acknowledge the desire of netizens to inform the public of any incident, but we appeal to everyone to be more mindful of what we are posting in social media and refrain from spreading unverified information from unknown sources, and speculations that could to public disturbance, panic, or confusion; and which may affect the ongoing investigation,” Cayat said. Cayat added there is no need for the public to panic as the incident is an isolated case and the police are doing best efforts to maintain peace and order in the city. – Hanna C. Lacsamana

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