MANILA, Philippines - Accused car theft syndicate leader Ivan Padilla could have been hit with a hard object on the neck or strangled after the vehicle carrying him left for the Ospital in Makati, an expert said on Friday.
Dr Raquel Fortun, a forensic pathologist, gave the opinion after being shown the autopsy report of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Padilla’s death last Monday.
The PNP crime laboratory said Padilla died of "asphyxia as a result of blunt force to the throat." Asphyxia is oxygen deficiency due to failure to breathe.
"It was really documented he was alive, though injured, after the shooting incident. So my question is, what happened after he left the scene and was taken to the hospital?" said Fortun, a professor at the University of the Philippines.
She was referring to an exclusive ABS-CBN News video showing Padilla answering a cameraman’s request to say his name.
The video proved Padilla was still alive before he was taken to the hospital, and that the “blunt force” referred to in the autopsy may have been sustained after the video was taken, Fortun said.
The police had attributed the death to Padilla purportedly breaking a neck bone in a car accident as he was trying to evade arrest in Makati.
Fortun contradicted the PNP. She said Padilla should have died on the spot if the car accident caused the asphyxia.
“You don't really say blunt force to the throat. Go direct to the point. Is this asphyxia due to strangulation?" she said.
Fortun wants to know how Padilla got his fractured hyoid bone, a bone in the neck that supports the tongue.
"Apparently, meron pressure sa neck. Halimbawa ay sinakal sa pamamagitan ng kamay. Or, meron kang tali na ginamit mong pangsakal," she said.
After the car accident, Padilla also sustained two gunshot wounds in the head, both of which were ruled out by the PNP autopsy as being the cause of Padilla’s death. He also had scratches on the arm and neck.
Several viewers of TV Patrol, ABS-CBN News’s flagship newscast, who watched the video of Padilla’s last moments observed the police appeared in no big hurry to bring the bloodied suspect to the hospital.
“Kung priority talaga ng pulis ang condition ni Ivan Padilla, dapat ‘di na nila pinayagan ma-interview si Ivan. ‘Di ba sila pa nga nagsabi kunan s’ya,” said one participant in the tvpatrol.abs-cbnnews.com site’s live chat on Friday.
PNP-National Capital Region’s Director Leocadio Santiago, asked about Fortun’s assessment Friday, dismissed Fortun’s statement as being premature, and said that the expert’s assessment was “very hasty.”
In an interview with ANC’s The World Tonight on Friday, Santiago said Padilla was declared dead upon reaching the hospital, as reported to him by the anti-car theft personnel who accompanied Padilla.
"As to the supposed intentional injury to the neck as pronounced by Dr. Fortun, I cannot guess or I cannot make any judgement on that," Santiago said. "I can only assume it is only based on her expertise."
“I can only assume that during the interview that the person (Padilla) is already agonizing and leaning on the side of the car. I cannot also assume whether he had already sustained neck or throat injuries during that period. The only thing I’ve read are initial reports submitted by our SOCO, and since it is initial, I cannot put it out publicly until they make a final report, ” Santiago said.
Apology to ABS-CBN
Santiago had apologized earlier to the ABS-CBN for the statement of his anti-car theft unit head, Supt. Maristelo Manalo, blaming the station’s news team for allegedly delaying the van that was to bring Padilla to the hospital.
“Naging stressed siya (Manalo) or defensive. And the time period, I don't think also that it (interview) is material. Kasi wala pa nga isang minuto yun eh,” Santiago said.
ABS-CBN maintained its news crew did nothing to impede the operations involving Padilla.
“Our cameraman clearly did not stop, prevent, or hinder any effort to rush him to a hospital,” the network said in its statement.
The case of Padilla, 23, comes on the heels of celebrated cases involving young men in car theft syndicates and road rage incidents. -- Arlene Burgos, tvpatrol.abs-cbnnews.com