The heartbreaking fate of Kristelle “Kae” Davantes intrudes, as it should, in the current national preoccupation over the pork barrel scandal. In the midst of protesting the large-scale theft of taxpayers’ money, it is only right that we pause to express our outrage over the murder of this young advertising executive.
After a night out with her friends at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on Sept. 6, 25-year-old Kae left them to drive home to Moonwalk Village in Las Piñas at past 1 a.m. of the next day. She never made it home; hours later, at 6 a.m., her gagged and bound body was found under a bridge in Silang, Cavite. Police investigators believe that she was strangled and stabbed to death elsewhere and that her body was dumped under the Tibagan Bridge some two hours before a resident discovered it.
But a week later there has been little progress in the case despite the efforts of the task force expressly formed on President Aquino’s orders. Per reports, the task force has so far found that the deed was done by two or more “amateurs,” and that the handkerchief used to gag Kae was not hers.
Even the motive remains elusive. Because Kae’s metallic beige Toyota Altis (plate number PIM 966) is still missing, along with her handbag and mobile phones, police are looking into the possibility of a carjacking gone wrong. But the violence of her death—by strangulation, with multiple stab wounds in the neck—seems to belie that idea. “If I were a car thief I would have also forced her to withdraw some money, but all her savings [in the bank] are intact,” Silang police chief Supt. Dario Roxas was earlier quoted as saying. If it wasn’t the car or the money, what was it then? There are no answers even as the questions multiply.
How did this young woman disappear in the streets of the metropolis between 1 a.m. and 3 or 4 a.m., and her body found hours later? Where was she waylaid, and then killed? Were there no police visible? Has the climate of impunity become so prevalent as to truly embolden criminals? You know there’s something terribly wrong when a country’s worst criminals go unpunished and its citizens are unprotected from those with mayhem and murder on their minds.
Kae’s murder is yet another indication of how bad things have become. It has left so many stunned because she had so much to look forward to. The eldest of three children of a couple working in the Middle East, she was engaged to be married next year. Her friends described her as funny, generous and well-liked. Her colleagues at work remembered her as extremely motivated, and an uncle said she was up for promotion. “She was a dreamer, and she inspired me to dream a little bigger,” Kae’s classmate Bianca Ravanes wrote in her blog. “But what truly set Kae apart was the fact that she believed in me, and for someone who had trouble believing in herself, having that influence has left such an impact.”
But as much as Kae’s death has touched a nerve among the public, her case is not the only one still hanging and befuddling investigators. There are other unresolved stories of bright young women whose lives were snuffed out. We think of the students found raped and killed in the province of Laguna—Given Grace Cebanico of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, who was shot in the head, and Rochel Geronda of Los Baños High School, who was strangled, their bodies left to be found in the darkness. Those recent killings shook the residents of the university community, leaving them to wonder if anyone was safe. And there is the sad and ironic case of Teresita Teaño, whose car was stolen and who was shot dead by three carjackers beside the Brahma Kumaris center in Quezon City in 2011, a violent aberration near a place dedicated to peace. There are other cases, and still others that remain unreported, cases of violence against women which may never be properly probed or solved.
Kae will be buried today by the people who love her, in the Sunday light, on this day when people pray and wish one another peace. Let us not forget her. Let us make sure she does not become yet another statistic recorded in a police blotter. Let us demand answers, so that her murder will not be lost in the long night.