Family, friends bid their farewell to Marry Grace

by Gumamela Celes Bejarin and Levi Joshua Verora

The family and friends of Marry Grace Esguerra gathered this afternoon to bring the child’s remains at the Los Baños Memorial Garden in Brgy. Anos.

Marry Grace, an 11-year old peanut vendor, was found dead earlier last week at a vacant lot in Villa Carangal, Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho. This was after she was reported missing since March 1.

Fredalyn Esguerra, Marry Grace’s mother, said they believe their child is already in peace. She added that they are grateful that the suspect to her daughter’s death was already sent to jail. She also acknowledged the support shown by their relatives, friends and students from UPLB.

Classmates and teachers of Marry Grace from Paciano Elementary school also paid their respect to the remains of the child.

Pedicab driver confesses to the murder of Marry Grace Esguerra

by Mary Joie C. Cruz and Gretzel H. Lantican

A 27-year old pedicab driver Henry Hipolito admitted this afternoon that he killed Marry Grace Esguerra. According to PO1 Rommel DG Montecillo, officer on case, Atty. Carlos Acain was present during the extra judicial confession of the suspect. Hipolito will be tried for murder.

Hipolito, the person who reported the body of the 11-year old girl in Villa Carangal in Brgy. Putho-Tuntungin, was also said to be one of the last persons Marry Grace was seen with the night she disappeared.

Ang sabi ng suspect ay nagandahan daw siya kay Marry Grace pero ang tingin namin ay matagal na rin siyang minamatyagan,” said Fredalyn Esguerra, Marry Grace’s mother.

Based on the report of PO1 Montecillo, Hipolito narrated that the victim boarded his pedicab with another male passenger on March 1 at the pedicab terminal near UPLB Animal Husbandry at about 11pm. The male passenger got off the pedicab upon reaching Purok 3, leaving Marry Grace alone with Hipolito. Upon reaching the dark portion of the road near Villa Carangal, the suspect grabbed Marry Grace who resisted and shouted for help. Hipolito hit the victim on the head with a stone knocking her unconscious. The suspect then brought the unconscious Marry Grace to the dark portions of the grassy vacant lot at Villa Carangal and started to undress the victim.

The suspect denied he raped Marry Grace. Based on his narration, a tricycle passed by as he was undressing the victim forcing him to flee from the scene.

Mabuti naman po at umamin na ang suspek sa pagpatay sa anak namin. Sa ngayon, ipinagpapasa-Diyos na lang namin ang nangyari kay Marry Grace,” said Fredalyn Esguerra.

At least mabibigyan na natin ng hustisya ang pagkamatay ni Marry Grace,” said Chief Superintendent Conrado Masongsong of PNP LB. Police Chief Masongsong is appealing to all the parents of Los Baños to guard their little children closely and to restrict them from staying outside their homes during night time.

The police are still waiting for the results of the autopsy of the body to confirm the suspect’s statements.

Marry Grace’s remains are now in Capunitan Funeraria in Brgy. Anos.

PSA: Missing Person

MALOU GATHERCOLE

  • 34 years old
  • Resident of Brgy. Bambang Los Baños, Laguna
  • Last seen February 23 wearing an orange top and pink pants

Malou is under maintenance medication for stress. Two weeks without medication may have resulted to severe anxiety. Malou Gathercole has been reported and declared as missing at the Los Baños PNP.

If you have seen Malou, kindly escort her to the nearest office of the barangay or the police station and contact Maria Fe Nedia (09179517066).

In the past two weeks, the family and relatives have received reports of possible sightings in Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa, Alabang, and different barangays of Los Baños.

Body of missing girl discovered in Putho-Tuntungin

by Gretzel Lantican, Mary Joie Cruz, Kamille Anne Anarna, Kathleen Mae Idnani, Kezia Grace Jungco, and Gumamela Celes Bejarin

PO1 Ronaldo Magbitang of the Los  Baños PNP confirmed that the body of 11-year-old Marry Grace Esguerra was found at around 5:30 pm by a pedicab driver at Villa Carangal in Brgy. Putho-Tuntungin of Los Baños, Laguna.

Fredalyn Esguerra, mother of Marry Grace, identified the decomposing body through the clothes, bag, and wallet that was found with it. Monica Esguerra, the victim’s elder sister, is convinced that Marry Grace was raped. The victim was found with her jogging pants and underwear pulled down.

LB PNP has yet to determine if the victim was raped and the cause of death after the autopsy.

The victim has been reported missing since March 1. Marry Grace is the youngest among the Esguerra’s 11 children.

MCME re-opens Makiling Trail, vows top-level security

by Levi Joshua Verora

The Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems (MCME) has re-opened the Mt. Makiling Trail in UP Los Baños last March 1, three months after the mountain trail has been closed temporarily for visitors.

Dr. Nathaniel Pantuan, director of MCME, said that the trail has been refurbished with a help from private companies. He also clarified that the Flatrocks case last December was not necessarily a trigger for the trail to be closed as the MCME already had plans to temporarily close the site as early as October for rehabilitation of some areas along the site. However, the incident did have an effect on the Makiling Trail. “The [Flat Rocks] incident has affected the Makiling Trail and it is a must to respond accordingly.” Said Dr. Pantuan. “It is time to be more responsible.”

To have a more responsible management of the Makiling Trail, the MCME coordinated with various stakeholders of Mt. Makiling. Dr. Pantuan said that the MCME has already devised a communication system with the municipality of Sto. Tomas, Batangas. “We have devised accredited entry points so that whenever visitors who entered from Sto. Tomas exits here [in the UPLB entry point], we can still confirm they registered.” Said Dr. Pantuan.

The Makiling Trail now boosts of a 24/7 security, according to the MCME director. MCME personnel shall be assigned during office hours (8 am to 5 pm) while Community Service Brigade (CSB) officials shall monitor the site for the rest of the night. Since the Makiling Trail is under the jurisdiction of UPLB by law, offices like the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) and University Police Force (UPF) have also pledged help to make the management of the site better.

When asked about expectations, Dr. Pantuan confidently said that people can expect a better natural experience, less untoward incidents, and greater visibility of authorities/personnel along the trail.

MCME re-opens the Makiling Trail, assuring better security and a more responsible management of the site. [Photo: Levi Verora]

4P beneficiaries gather for First Payout Pantawid Pamilya LB

by Kay Althea F. Ordillo and Vhernadette A. Oracion            

March 5 marked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s First Payout Pantawid Pamilya – Los Baños in Brgy. Baybayin covered court as part of the country’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P).

More than a thousand 4P beneficiaries attended the First Payout Pantawid Pamilya - Los Baños at Baybayin covered court. (Photo taken by Janela Raflores)

From 7 am to 2:30 pm, DSWD 4A recorded 1,322 4P beneficiaries from different Los Baños barangays. Started in October 2013, this is the third activity in the First Payout Pantawid Pamilya-Los Baños. The event is held every two months and is managed by the regional offices of the DSWD. The 4P is a national program that aims to provide assistance to families who are below the poverty threshold.

Janela Raflores, muncipal link of the DSWD Region 4A (CALABARZON), explained that the goal of the program is to help families in Los Baños who have qualified for the basic requirements. Raflores elaborated that the project focuses on pregnant women and children aged 0-14 years.

To become 4P beneficiaries, families go through interviews and are listed down as potential candidates for the program. They are further screened and reassessed. Beneficiaries are constantly monitored and can have their grants taken away if they commit offenses like gambling.

Raflores explained that there are no limits set for the number of beneficiaries in each barangay. For Los Baños, the barangay with the highest number of beneficiaries that received grants was Brgy. Mayondon with 157 families and the barangay with the smallest number of beneficiaries was Baybayin with 23 recorded beneficiaries.

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