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Christine Silawan's photos published by Philippine media. Image Credit: Social media

Manila: Officials have condemned the gruesome slaying of a 16-year-old girl in Lapu-Lapu City in Central Philippines’s Cebu and have urged authorities to swiftly bring the killers to justice.

Christine Silawan was last seen collecting donations during Sunday mass service at the local parish in Bangkal village, the following day her remains was found dumped at a vacant lot.

Reports reaching Manila said Silawan’s body bore marks of multiple knife wounds.

The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was aghast over the apparent brutality of the slaying.

“No one deserves to suffer from such violence, especially when the victim is an innocent child. This act desecrates human dignity and must be punished,” Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said in a statement on the rape-slay.

The Philippines is not unfamiliar with slayings coming out in the news but the degree of brutality carried out against the victim poked local sensibilities.

Raped, face peeled off

Silawan’s face was peeled off, exposing her skull and authorities said there were signs that she had been raped.

The Department of Education (DepEd) aired serious concern over the killing.

“The department calls on the local government unit and the police to swiftly bring to justice the cold-blooded criminals, it likewise enjoins the public in the shared responsibility of protecting children from all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, and threat,” the department said.

The victim was a student of Maribago High School. She was reported missing by her mother on Sunday when she failed to return home from serving as a tithe collector in church.

“The DepEd urges the concerned authorities to hasten the arrest of the perpetrators,” it said.

According to a report by the Cebu Daily News, the incident was not the first time that a victim was murdered and flayed in the province.

Related crime?

The publication reported that in January, a farmer, Trening Batucan, was killed and his face flayed in a similar manner as in Lapu-Lapu City’s adjacent Danao City.

However, authorities have still to establish that the two crimes are related.

The report also point to the presence of a supposed “cult” behind the gruesome murders while other say that the incident were the handiwork of drug crazed individuals.

The brutal slayings took place even as the government continues with its crackdown on drug-related crimes under President Rodrigo Duterte.