Man arrested, charged for killing transgender Filipina in Australia

MANILA, Philippines – A man has been arrested and charged with manslaughter for killing transgender Filipina Mhelody Polan Bruno, Australian police confirmed to Rappler on Friday, September 27.

"I can confirm that a transgender Filipino Mhelody Bruno died in a hospital in Wagga Wagga on Sunday, 22/9/19. As a result of police inquiries, a 33-year-old man was arrested and charged with manslaughter," Detective Sergeant Brent Fletcher told Rappler in an email.

In a separate press release, the Australian police said the suspect was granted "strict conditional bail" and is set to appear at the Wagga Wagga Local Court on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.

What happened to Bruno? Bruno is a transgender Filipina who had been on vacation in Australia for at least 2 months, according to her family who spoke to Rappler.

She was supposed to return to the Philippines on Saturday, September 28, but she went missing on Friday, September 20. (READ: #SOGIEEqualityNow: Transgender restroom issue sparks call for passage of SOGIE bill)

Her family has been scrambling to send her body home ever since, and demanding justice as details of the circumstances surrounding her death have not been established through an autopsy.

How the Philippine government is moving: In a statement on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Consulate General of the Philippines to Australia said it "is coordinating with local authorities, including the Wagga Wagga police, to obtain relevant additional details on the case, as well as to effect the repatriation of the Filipino's remains."

The DFA said its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs is already helping Bruno's family for her return. This was also confirmed to Rappler by Leonel Bruno, Mhelody's eldest brother. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.