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Gov’t official accused of raping minor

By Jeannette Andrade, Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:05:00 01/22/2009

Filed Under: Children, Crime, Local authorities

MANILA, Philippines ? A man who claimed to be a ?concerned citizen? has accused the head of the National Printing Office (NPO) of raping a 13-year-old girl.

The charge, however, was denied by Enrique Agana, NPO director, and Carmen, the mother of the supposed victim.

The alleged rape was reported by Napoleon Bunagan Jr. ? a resident of Valenzuela City who identified himself as a concerned citizen ? in a sworn statement he filed at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Jan. 16.

The statement became the DSWD?s basis for taking the girl into custody on Jan. 19.

?I absolutely deny the charge against me,? Agana told the Inquirer Wednesday, adding that a syndicate in the NPO was behind the smear campaign against him because they stand to lose at least P300 million worth of contracts with his agency.

According to him, he recently proposed that the design of all government account forms be standardized, a move that would do away with the services of private printing firms.

?With the proposal, we will no longer need [to hire] outside printers, thus reducing the [expenses] of local government units and at the same time curtailing graft and corruption,? Agana said.

He admitted, however, that he was a close friend of Carmen, the victim?s mother, and that he had grown fond of the young girl whom he had known since she was just 4 years old.

He added that he was even planning to adopt the girl, which was probably why the syndicate was trying to use her against him.

Carmen said the accusations against Agana were concocted by Bunagan, Francisco Datu and a woman identified only as Yanni.

Bunagan, she told the Inquirer, has a printing company.

She further claimed the three tried to take advantage of her naivete and closeness to Agana.

?I didn?t finish elementary. They told me that I would be paid P10 million for blackmailing the director by accusing him of raping my daughter. They wanted him to award all the contracts to them,? she said in Filipino.

Carmen added that she initially went along with the group?s plan. ?However, I backed out after I realized that they actually intended to harm my daughter to make it appear that she was really raped,? she said.

She asked for help in locating her daughter who was taken by DSWD workers from her school on Monday.

?I went to all DSWD offices to check if my daughter was with them but I failed to find her,? Carmen said.

Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, in a phone interview, confirmed that the girl was in their custody.

Cabral said the department?s National Capital Region office, with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation, carried out the ?rescue operation.?

?A complaint was filed with us and they went to see the girl and took her into custody,? she told the Inquirer.

?The child is under the protection and custody of the DSWD. The case is now being processed. I cannot give you any more information because we are protecting the child and we don?t want the case sensationalized and the child stigmatized,? Cabral added.

Asked about Carmen?s allegations that DSWD workers have refused to tell her where they were keeping her daughter, Cabral commented, ?It?s because part of the problem is the mother.?

She assured Carmen, however, that the DSWD would get in touch with her once it has finished interviewing her daughter and studying the complaint against Agana.

?It?s the DSWD?s responsibility to protect children under difficult circumstances,? she added.

Bunagan, meanwhile, denied that he had concocted the rape story.

?It?s not true that the mother of the victim was coerced, coached and promised money for blackmailing anyone. The sensitive information divulged to my client by the mother of the child was reported to the DSWD as a moral and social obligation of my client, and it?s up to the DSWD to look into the report,? his lawyer, Buenaventura Miranda, said in a statement to the Inquirer.

?My client is the victim here, he is willing to undergo a lie detector test and to testify that he did not fabricate the story. It was the mother who disclosed the sensitive matter to my client,? Miranda said.

The Inquirer also contacted Yanni who said that Carmen was the one who told them about her daughter?s plight.

?She talked to us and sought our help and as a mother myself, I pitied her so I told her that we would help her and her daughter,? she said as she begged off from disclosing what her last name was. With Nikko Dizon



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