Last 18 May, Ifugao prosecutors charged Juan Duntugan with murder for the killing of Julia Campbell. [Links to our previous coverage on this issue: Missing in Ifugao; On Juan Duntugan’s Surrender and Confession; People vs. Duntugan] Why murder and not homicide which we argued is the proper charge? Well, according to assistant provincial prosecutor Marvin Ngayawan it’s gotta be murder because there was treachery and cruelty involved.
From the Associated Press via Boston.com:
Duntugan’s confession showed he attacked Campbell from behind, Ngayawan told The Associated Press by telephone.
“There was treachery. Clearly Campbell … could not defend herself,” he said. The autopsy revealed “additional and unnecessary beatings,” indicating cruelty.
We defer to the assessment of the prosecutors since they have more facts and evidence to back them up. It’s just interesting that we are now being told that Duntugan attacked Campbell from behind. The imagery that comes out of this “attack from behind” description is that Duntugan was following Campbell and attacked her while she had her back on him which would certainly qualify as treachery.
In earlier reports, we were told that according to Duntugan’s confession, Campbell bumped him from behind which I thought meant that Duntugan was walking ahead of Campbell.
I wonder if the “attack from behind” description should instead be, “he turned his back and attacked her”. We hope we have a copy of that confession, no? Because the case is certainly getting curiouser and curiouser.
Anyway, it seems like U.S. embassy officials are getting their wish, i.e., that Duntugan should be charged with murder. In a not too subtle attempt to influence this case, an embassy official by the name of Steve Cutler paid State Chief Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño a visit and said something like: “Yo Jovencito, charge this Duntugan guy with murder and not homicide.”
Not unexpectedly, after that friendly reminder from our buddy Steve as to who is the master in these islands, a murder charge is now filed against Duntugan. (Yo, Stevie! Can you give me a visa!)
We, of course, are not fans of the U.S. government’s meddling in our internal affairs but we have to give it credit for the persistent manner it goes about protecting its citizens (and their interests). We hope that the Philippine government is as persistent in protecting Filipinos abroad but this, certainly, is just wishful thinking. We also hope that the U.S.’s admirable interest in justice in the Campbell case would be coupled with interest in achieving justice for the many victims of the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq. Wishful thinking din ano?