Marawi soldier shot dead by cops laid to rest, exhumed for re-autopsy

Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2017 06:14 PM

Photo by Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

Photo by Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

Photo by Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

Photo by Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

MIDSALIP, Zamboanga del Sur – Hundreds joined a funeral mass here Saturday to pay their last respects to a soldier who had survived the fighting in Marawi City but was slain by police after he drew suspicion while waiting for a ride home last week.

Corporal Rodilo Bartolome was shot by officers responding to a call from residents of Barangay Monte Alegre, Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur. 

Residents had reported the soldier, who sported an overgrown mustache, as they thought he was a terrorist. Police shot him when he reportedly attacked as they approached.

Soldiers honor Corporal Rodilo Bartolome with a gun salute at his funeral. Video by Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News

Clad in shirts printed with Bartolome’s face, his relatives and friends gathered at the St. Joseph Parish Church and called for justice for the soldier’s death. 

His wife Metcheal also expressed disbelief in her husband’s death. She had prayed for his safety while he was in Marawi City.

"I still can't imagine how life would be like without my husband. Every night, I prayed for his safety while in Marawi," a tearful Metcheal said in her eulogy. 

Before the incident, Bartolome had been given an overnight pass to visit his family in Midsalip, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla.

Lieutenant Colonel Virgilio Hamos, commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, said Bartolome's death was "unacceptable," and promised to help the soldier’s family get justice.

Hamos also urged the police to avoid abusing their authority and to be fair at all times.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) exhumed Bartolome's remains after the burial for a repeat autopsy.

The autopsy was to clear up any questions that the military might have regarding Bartolome's death, the NBI told ABS-CBN News.

Bartolome's remains will be returned to his resting place after the autopsy, which can take up to two days.

The military and police had initiated a joint investigation on Bartolome’s death.

"While we are in mourning for the death of one of our Marawi heroes, we call for prayers and sobriety as we seek an immediate solution to this case," the Western Mindanao Command said in a statement.

"We would like to solicit everyone's understanding if we cannot divulge more information at the moment since this is a sensitive matter still under investigation and we wish to give due consideration to the family's privacy. The entire Western Mindanao Command grieves with the family of PFC Bartolome and will extend maximum assistance to his widow and his children," it said.