Before police begin to pat themselves on the back for quickly solving the murder of Mary Rose Tiburcio and probably her daughter aged 6, and that of Arian Palanas Lozano, perhaps they should ask themselves first whether any of these three vulnerable members of society had to die at all.
It was excess rain and a tourist in the right place at the right time that kicked off an investigation in the first place, not police work. Since then, police have gone all out and acted quickly, but they can never make up for the fact that at the very least, Lozano might not have been killed last July if they had properly investigated the disappearance of Tiburcio and her child three months previously.
It’s clear the killer knew what he was doing in choosing his targets. These were people who society did not care much about and would not be missed except by their own friends and family, who without contacts in high places, had little hope for a proper investigation.
Had it been a Greek Cypriot mother and child, the police would have turned the country inside out.
It’s true that domestic workers do sometimes choose to make themselves invisible to avoid immigration or suddenly change employer, but there is such a thing as due diligence rather than lazy assumptions. If a close friend of a domestic worker reports them missing, it’s more than likely they didn’t “just run off” because logically that would just draw unwanted attention to their disappearance.
In Tiburcio’s case it was clear from her roommate that she went to see a man she met on social media. Even if you bring that person in and have no evidence to hold them, you would check their social media account for suspicious postings and keep monitoring it afterwards.
Was this person in contact with perhaps another Filipino woman who went missing five months before Tiburcio? If Tiburcio and her daughter did not have their passports, how did they leave the country? Wouldn’t they need their passports to cross to the north? Why was all their stuff still at the Larnaca flat? There are a multitude of questions that need to be asked.
What’s worse is that the head of the domestic workers’ association wrote a piece in Politis as far back as last August pleading with authorities to pay attention to the fate of domestic workers who go missing, so they can’t say they weren’t warned.
Police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou yesterday said they recognised and understood the public’s feelings and the questions raised. They have “every intention” of investigating and taking corrective measures, and assign blame, he said.
All far too late for the victims, however.
What’s ironic is that this travesty has happened in a country that has never stopped searching for its own missing persons for the past 45 years.