Woman’s slay for phone theft alarms DSWD exec
The social welfare department expressed alarm at the killing of a 62-year-old woman suffering from kleptomania who was arrested for stealing a mobile phone in Ormoc City and was found dead five days later.
She was killed in the style of summary executions associated with the government’s war on drugs.
“This is most disturbing news—an elderly Filipino was allegedly executed for stealing a cell phone,” said Aleli Bawagan, assistant social welfare secretary, in a statement.
“We have no more means to determine [her] reasons for stealing the cell phone, but whatever her reasons were, there is no justifying what was done to her afterwards,” Bawagan said.
“The reports about her killing are shocking,” she said.
“We are greatly dismayed whenever we encounter reports of how elderly Filipinos are abused, or worse, killed under the most suspicious circumstances,” Bawagan said.
Bawagan issued the statement following reports about the discovery of the body of Lorna Soza five days after her arrest and detention by Ormoc City police. Soza was found on Aug. 11 with her head wrapped with and hands bound by packaging tape. She had a gunshot wound in the face.
Prior to the discovery of her body, Soza was arrested on Aug. 6 after she took a cell phone at a store in a mall in Ormoc.
At station 1 of the Ormoc police, however, Soza begged for forgiveness from the store owner and offered to pay for the phone with all that she had in her wallet—P10,300 in cash.
No charges were filed against her, but police did not release her and kept her detained until Aug. 11 when she was removed from her cell and forced into a police vehicle. Her body was found in the town of Kananga, Leyte province.
“Our call is for the whole of government to unite in efforts to support the elderly and to help them cope with the challenges created by their age, poverty and other negative social circumstances,” said Bawagan, pointing out that the first week of October was designated as Elderly Filipino Week.
Bawagan said the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Leyte capital, Tacloban City, was now preparing a report on Soza’s case so the agency could determine ways to help her family.
A sister of Soza admitted that the slain woman was suffering from kleptomania, a disorder that forces those afflicted with it to steal.
The family of Soza, however, said they had the means to pay for the phone that she stole. Soza, they said, had been caught in the past stealing but was let go after her disease had been explained.