On Juan Dontogan’s Surrender and Confession

Now that our kailiyan Juan Dontogan (or Duntugan) has confessed to and apologized for killing Julia Campbell, should we now end our coverage on this case?

Well, not yet. We will continue to cover the case but we won’t be posting as many updates as in the past. Also, our updates will be focused more on the forthcoming trial of our kailiyan since authorities will reportedly file a homicide case against him. Why he did what he did and the consequences of his crime are some questions which we hope will be clarified in the coming days.

It is worth noting that, according to reports, Dontogan surrendered after his mother appealed to him to surrender. This is a remarkable thing for a mother to do. She must have wrestled with her conscience and decided that, despite the consequences that would fall upon her son, the right thing to do is to tell him to give himself up. It would be a much safer world if mothers do not coddle their children and ignore their crimes, wouldn’t it?

It would seem that there was also an element of community pressure which forced Dontogan to come out. In this video, he expressed the hope that the anger that people in Ifugao felt will somehow diminish since he has now submitted himself to authorities. To rephrase our question above, wouldn’t our world be much safer if communities do not turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by their members?

It is good that Dontogan surrendered, that he confessed, and that he apologized for the wrong he committed. His confession and apology will not bring back Julia Campbell but it will help her family and friends find the healing they need and to eventually move on. It is reassuring to note that Julia’s family is not the vindictive kind. Too often, when a crime is committed in our country, we are bombarded with demands for revenge, calls for the death penalty, and images of people beating the offender.

Maybe it is a natural human instinct to hit back, but I’ve often wondered whether cries for blood and vengeance will make our country a safer and a less violent place. So it is refreshing to listen to Julia’s sister say in this video, that they would rather celebrate Julia’s life rather than focus on her death and that she hopes to eventually walk in places where Julia walked.

Speaking of the place where Julia made her last walk, Dontogan’s surrender will eventually restore balance to Batad and Banaue. These two places have been unfairly projected in a very bad light because of this crime and our iBatad and iBanaue kailiyans have a right to be really angry particularly because Dontogan, it turns out, comes from another part of the region. Hopefully, Batad and Banaue will regain their image as the places to see the best Cordillera terraces. (Although our kailiyans from other parts of the region can still argue that the “title” belongs to them.)

Finally, Dontogan’s surrender is good for himself and his family. He cleansed his soul by his confession and, by surrendering, he won’t be dragging his whole family down. The worst thing that could happen to him now is being imprisoned. But there is a certainty to this punishment and there’s a hope that he will eventually be released. Whereas, if he did not surrender, can you imagine what his life would be like on the lam? Always hiding, always fearful, always on the lookout, always suspicious. And this goes on until he eventually gets caught.

Somewhere in our coverage on this case, we criticized the media for referring to Dontogan as the killer way before he confessed to being one. This is what we said, “we hope the media stop labeling Dontogan as the killer. If, in the future, he is convicted of killing Julia or if he outrightly confesses that he did, then by all means we will all tag him as the killer. But, at this stage, we hope that the media is a little more careful.”

Well, we are not taking back those words. But now that Dontogan did confess to killing Julia, the media can now have a field day labeling him as the killer. But, even as that label can now be rightfully applied on him, we should remember that he is a human being who has shown remorse for his act. So let’s penalize him alright but let us not fall to the trap, as some of us are wont to, of demonizing him.

RELATED POSTS: Missing in Ifugao; Video Updates on Julia Campbell. PHOTO CREDIT: ABS-CBN.

4 Comments
  1. Praises to the mother of Juan. That is a real brave thing to do. I am also amazed at the reaction of Julia’s family. It’s one thing to celebrate the life and not dwell on the murder of a loved one but it is really something to not give in to the clutch of hate for the murderer. Wow! Saludo ako… that the sister desires to walk where Julia had walked when she can very well say (and she’ll be justified)that the people whom her sister came to help are a brood of ‘walang utang na loobs.’

    Sana dumami pa ang mga katulad nilang mapagpatawad sa mundo…

  2. Hi Ferri,
    Yup. Pretty much agree with you. I guess, at the end of the day, hating the murderer would not get anyone anywhere. It would just be a waste of energy and costly to one’s well being. Thanks.

  3. No country can legislate morality or mental cases. Killings will be just a way of life. Cheer…..

  4. Hi Trublue,
    I think so too. I think what a country can do is to find the killer and give him the appropriate penalty. Mental cases, on the other hand, should be treated and, if necessary, be brought to mental institutions.

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