By ALEX SUAREZ
MANILA – Activists killed in the simultaneous raids in the Southern Tagalog region on March 7 sustained gunshot wounds that were deadly, a forensic pathology expert said in an online press conference yesterday July 7.
“Targets are mostly chest – where vital internal organs are located including the heart and the lungs and can be deadly,” Raquel Fortun, a forensic pathology expert at the University of the Philippines said.
These cases, she said, deserve proper investigation.
The killings stemmed from the purported serving of warrants of arrest issued by a Manila court. Authorities claimed the activists resisted arrest, leaving nine killed. Three others were arrested and detained.
Fortun, who examined the remains of nine activists, said it was a challenge as the bodies were previously examined and embalmed, and that there were bullet holes that were altered and sutured.
“Now this begs a question if was there a bullet recovered by the first examiner and where?” she said.
Apart from the gunshot wounds in their chests, Fortun’s initial findings found that Chai Evangelista sustained injuries at the back of the arm and the fingers, which Fortun classified as defense-type of injuries.
Labor leader Manuel Asuncion also had several injuries and were all sutured, making it difficult to determine whether the bullets that entered his body also exited. Fortun said he was likely shot several times in the chest and abdomen and had fractured ribs.
“What are they (sutured wounds)? Belatedly, I received information that at some point the embalmer reportedly recovered a bullet,” she said.
These put to question the police narrative that those killed fought back during the serving of warrant.
“Whether they fought back or not, the question is how and with what and it boils down to really understanding how the shooting went. So it’s shooting reconstruction and this goes beyond just the body,” Fortun said.
Of the nine victims, only six sets of clothes were submitted for autopsy. This and crime scene investigation, Fortun added, could have provided more answers to their questions as findings may be correlated to it.
A crime scene, she said, can tell a lot.
Fortun said she is interested in the results of the previous autopsy done on the remains.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Secretary General Ephraim Cortez told Bulatlat that relatives of the Batangas-based Evangelista couple and San Mateo-based Melvin Dasigao who were killed in the Bloody Sunday received subpoenas over administrative charges filed before the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine police against those who carried out the search.
For the rest, no case has been filed.
Ridiculous, absurd allegations
Meanwhile, NUPL Spokesperson Josalee Deinla said government prosecutors have started presenting their purported evidence against 61-year-old Nimfa Lanzanas, who was among those arrested during the Bloody Sunday.
Lanzanas, through her lawyers, is set to file an omnibus motion to quash search warrants, suppress evidence, and dismiss the cases.
During the online forum, Deinla said there is clear and convincing evidence that the police and their informant came up with deliberate falsehoods during the application for arrest warrants, and that probable cause was not established.
“There are gaps in the procedural rules and safeguards on the process of search and seizure from start to finish considering that it was easy for police units to invoke search warrant without giving a compelling reason. The presence of barangay officials on the scene are not enough safeguards to prevent the planting of evidence because they are called after the search was conducted,” said Deinla.