2 children gathering scrap metal cut up, burnedPhilippine Daily Inquirer
ZAMBOANGA CITY— Jessiedel Manalo, 11, and her cousin John Larry Mendoza, 8, braved the strong rain on Saturday morning to gather scrap metal in the hope of earning a few pesos for their school allowance.
On Sunday dawn, Jessiedel and John Larry’s chopped and charred bodies were recovered in a garbage pile at the back of a house owned by Alfred Tan Miranda along Isabela Salazar Drive in Talon-Talon village here.
Senior Inspector Elmer Acuña, chief of the Tetuan Police Station, told the Inquirer that the bodies showed signs of “being chopped and burned when our investigators recovered them in a pile of garbage with fresh live coals on top.”
Acuña said Miranda was arrested on Sunday.
“He killed my daughter. He chopped and burned my daughter,” Jessiebel, Jessiedel’s mother, told the Inquirer at the Villa Funeral Homes on Sunday afternoon.
Ronelyn Manalo said her sister had asked permission to join her cousins who were going to gather scrap metal on Saturday. “She wanted to earn money,” she said.
John Bryan Mendoza, 14, said he allowed Jessiedel to join their group on condition she would take care of his younger brother John Larry.
Bryan said when they reached Isabela Salazar Drive, they divided into groups. Bryan, Jessiedel and Larry tried their luck in what they thought was an old abandoned house. To their surprise, a Chinese-looking man came out with a scythe and ran after them. “I was able to climb over a fence, but Del-Del and Larry were not able to run because the man was able to grab them,” Bryan said.
Police Officer 2 Butch Canones, the case investigator, said Bryan’s father, Expedito, reported the incident to the police.
Expedito said when they returned to the area, “there was no sign of the two.”
Expedito even sought the help of Talon-Talon village officials to get inside the property, but Miranda denied holding or seeing two children.
At around 10 p.m. Saturday, Expedito climbed over the fence and searched the area. “I saw a pair of bloodied slippers and, according to Jessiebel, it belonged to her daughter. With the help of village guards, we scoured the area and found the bloodied clothes of my son,” Expedito said.
Canones said using a fire truck’s search light, they scoured the 500-square meter property until dawn. “We saw Miranda burning something in a garbage pile. We approached him and Bryan identified him as the person who grabbed his cousin and brother.”
“When our investigators searched the house, they found Miranda’s clothing with fresh blood. Then we inspected the garbage pile covered with live coal and found the chopped bodies of the kids,” he said.
At the police station, Miranda denied involvement in the killing and repeated saying “only my lawyer will speak on my behalf.”
Talon-Talon councilor Teodyver Arquiza said Miranda is known in the community as someone who “doesn’t mingle with his neighbors.”
“We were told that all the members of his family were either dead or have left the place,” Arquiza said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao