Butuan City – Netizens, authorities and residents here expressed alarm and called for immediate action in the wake of a closed circuit television (CCTV) footage showing three female teenagers ganging up on and severely beating a girl, as two more cohorts watched on the sideline, at a commercial area in the city that went viral on social media.
The CCTV video was uploaded August 9, 2017 at around 7:00 in the evening and quickly grabbed the attention of netizens after it showed the three girls bullying another girl, beating her to the ground and pummeling her with punches and kicks even after their outnumbered victim had curled up defensively in the presence of many onlookers.
Before the video was removed from Facebook, the footage had generated 353,000 views by midnight of August 10.
“What we saw on the viral video was very alarming, we did our initial investigation and considered the possibility that we might be looking at gang-related violence. We have investigated violent encounters in the past, but mostly between male teens that are linked to gangs, but this is the first time we have seen women perpetrating such violence,” said Police Senior Insp. Paul Paden, officer in charge, Station 1 of the Butuan City Police Office (BCPO).
Officer Paden added that they are still digging further into the violent incident.
“Right now, we have obtained the names of the alleged attackers and their addresses but we will still have to validate and investigate further. Initially, our investigation pointed out that the victim was a student from Butuan City School of Arts and Trades (BCSAT) and the attackers, including those who served as lookouts, were from a group at Agusan National High School (ANHS). We are digging deeper into the matter,” said Paden, pointing out that, even if the incident was recorded on the CCTV, the victim has yet to come forward and formally report the incident.
“We are waiting for the victim to file a complaint. Unfortunately, in some incidents like this, the victim would decline to file a complaint. Most of them will just keep it to themselves and reserve the opportunity to exact vengeance through counter-gang activity or other means of getting back.
“In many cases that we have come across, when we try to interview the victim, they would even deny or just stay silent. We hope we can get the full story from other people, friends or family members of the victims. I hope that those who have been victimized by gangs will come out so that appropriate action can be taken, and those responsible properly charged for their actions,” Paden said.
The buzz in social media tended to indicate that the attack could be related to a spat over a boy friend.
A friend of one of the attackers who requested not to be named validated this information.
“It was a feud that started over a guy, then spilling over into exchanges and dares on social media. The online tussle escalated to verbal threats both from the attackers and even from the victim. The victim even challenged one of the attackers to a one-on-one brawl after she was slut shamed on the social media,” said Jason, not his real name.
Rise of Gangs in Butuan
BCPO data revealed that there could be at least 13 gangs presently active in various schools and areas all over Butuan City, up from 11 gangs recorded in May.
Indira Fideles Lacre, Guidance Coordinator II of ANHS, shared that identifying the gang members would be difficult.
“We only get wind of an untoward situation after the parents report or confide that they found out their child is part of a gang,” she added, citing one incident where the parents of an absentee child discovered that their child had joined a local gang.
Most of the time, Lacre pointed out that, “after parents find out that their child had fallen into the clutches of a certain gang, they opt to transfer the child to another place – not just to another school because they know their child will still be followed by the gang, as they have members also present in other schools.”
A teacher in BCSAT, who requested not to be named, validated the statement of the guidance coordinator from the other school after she saw the viral video, sharing that she has had two students in the past who just suddenly left school, “and that they had been moved to a different town or city, away from Butuan.”
Glenn Bequibel, a member of the parents teachers association in ANHS expressed his concern: “The video just validated our fear about the rise and spread of gangs here in Butuan City. This is very alarming and I hope the authorities could take action on this. I also have a nephew, who was made to donate part of his allowance to the gang that he wanted to be part of,” said Bequibel.
Bequibel added that parents and the school are looking for ways to seek help from the local government unit of the city.
BCPO, in turn, assured that the law enforcement establishment will keep its eye on gang-related violence in the city.
Click and watch a video clip extract as captured by the CCTV surveillance camera: