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Catherine Camilon's family hopes for her safe return home; cop admits relationship with missing beauty queen

Catherine Camilon Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho

The family of Miss Grand Philippines 2023 contestant Catherine Camilon continues to be hopeful for her safe return home, more than a month since she has been missing.

In an episode of "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho," Catherine's mother, Rose, recalled that the beauty queen and high school teacher said she would be heading to Batangas City.

Catherine took her car with her and last informed her mom of her whereabouts at around 8:33 p.m. on October 13.

"Sabi niya, 'Nandito ako sa Bauan, naka-park. Hinihintay ko lang ang aking kasama.' 'Yun na po ang aming huling usapan," Rose said.

["She said, 'I'm in Bauan, just waiting for my companion.' That was our last conversation."]

The following day, Catherine can no longer be contacted.

Her sister Chin took to Facebook and sought help from people, asking to let them know in case they knew Catherine's whereabouts. 

The family also went to the Balisong Channel office in Batangas, where Catherine constantly visits but did not find her there.

Later on, they received a call from a person who claimed to be friends with Catherine.

"Sinabi niya na si Cath ay mayroong kinikita na isang pulis na karelasyon niya. Kada punta niya doon, 'yun ang nagiging kasama niya," Rose said. 

["The person said Catherine was seeing a policeman who is her boyfriend. He would accompany Cath every time she would go there."]

Catherine's last sighting

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) soon reported that Catherine was last spotted in a Batangas mall. A CCTV footage also captured Catherine's car on the night of October 12.

Catherine was officially declared missing by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on October 18. The authorities offered a reward to anyone who could point to Catherine's whereabouts.

On November 6, the PNP CIDG Region IV-A received information from two witnesses who claimed that on the night of October 12, they saw a bloodied woman while traveling to Batangas City.

According to the witnesses, they saw three men transferring the woman from a silver vehicle to a red car. When the two witnesses were noticed, they were warned by one of the men.

The authorities recognized one of the men in the witnesses' story, and identified him as Jeffrey Magpantay. 

"Siya 'yung nagmamando doon sa paglilipat. Hindi nila sigurado 'yun si Catherine kasi hindi nila naman talaga kilala. But nang pinakita namin 'yung footage ni Catherine, nagfi-fit 'yung damit, 'yung suot niya nu'ng araw na 'yun," they said.

["Jeffrey Magpantay was there. The witnesses weren't sure if the girl was Catherine because they didn't know her. But when we showed them the footage, they confirmed that the clothes that the girl was wearing were the same as the ones they saw."]

Catherine's romantic relationship

The youngest child in the family, Catherine is also the breadwinner. Her father, Relmer, is a tricycle driver. Rose meanwhile is a stay-at-home mom.  

Catherine often joined beauty contests, including the recent Miss Grand Philippines pageant, to earn extra money.

But Catherine was secretive when it came to her love life.

Some witnesses claimed that Catherine's mysterious disappearance may have been caused by a police officer who was said to be her boyfriend.

The PNP identified Catherine's alleged boyfriend as PNP Batangas' Police Major Allan de Castro, who is now in the custody of the PNP Regional Office.

While de Castro declined for an interview, he admitted he knew Catherine. He however denied that they were in a relationship.

De Casto also denied that he had anything to do with Catherine's disappearance. But the police found out that De Castro has connections with Jeffrey Magpantay, one of the persons of interest.

"Base sa ating research, itong si Jeffrey Magpantay ay ni-utilize ni Major de Castro as personal driver, so parati niyang kasama ito," CIDG said.

["Based on our research, Jeffrey Magpantay was Major de Castro's personal driver, so they are always together."]

"'Yung intention ng biktima nating si Catherine na gusto nang humiwalay. Pangalawa, nu'ng allegedly sinabi ni Catherine sa asawa ni police officer, na gusto nang humiwalay, na meron itong babae. So those two ano na might trigger bakit nangyari itong pagkawala ni Catherine," the group added.

["Catherine wanted to break up. Catherine also allegedly told the police officer's wife, who also wanted to separate, that he had another woman. So these might have triggered Catherine's disappearance."]  

There were also text messages that showed the alleged abuse of the police officer that is said to be Catherine's boyfriend.

On Thursday, the policeman finally confessed he had a relationship with Catherine.

"But with regards to the disappearance, Major de Castro chooses to invoke his right to remain silent. We are hoping na meron pa kaming makukuhang ebidensiya para mas lalong tumibay 'yung kaso namin against dito sa mga suspect," CIDG said.

["But with regards to the disappearance, Major de Castro chose to invoke his right to remain silent. We are hoping to get more evidence to strengthen our case against the suspects."]

Along with Magpantay and two other persons of interest, Major de Castro has been charged with kidnapping and serious legal detention.

DNA samples

On November 8, an abandoned red car was found in Barangay Dumuclay, Batangas City. It is said to match the vehicle as stated by the two witnesses. While the group pulled out the history of the vehicle, they cannot yet claim whether the owner was involved in the crime.

The vehicle underwent a forensic test by the Batangas Provincial Police Office and found 17 strands of hair and 12 swabs of blood samples.

To confirm their suspicion that Catherine was the woman who was taken in the car, her mother Rose took a DNA test.

The result of the test will come out in the following days.

"Masakit man ay kailangan tanggapin. Gaano man kasakit," Rose said. "Mananagot sila. Hindi po puwedeng palampasin ito na ganito na lang. Ipaglalaban namin ang karapatan namin."

["It's painful, but we need to accept it. They will be held accountable. We cannot let this pass. We will fight to seek justice for her."]

Catherine's family continues to hope that they will soon find the truth.

"Gustong-gusto ko na siyang makita. Gustong-gusto ko na siyang mayakap. Gustong-gusto ko iparamdam sa kanya ang pagmamahal ko bilang ina," Rose said in tears.

["I really want to see her. I want to hug her. I want to make her feel my love as her mother."]

—Carby Basina/LA, GMA Integrated News