MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it found pieces of evidence that suggest the death of University of the Philippines student and mountaineer Victor Ayson in Mt. Maculot last year was not an accident.
Ayson died in April last year after he allegedly fell from a high spot in Mt. Maculot in Batangas.
New pieces of evidence, however, suggest Ayson was murdered, NBI Environment and Wildlife Protection Division's chief Sixto Comia said.
The NBI was able to find Ayson's camera in Mt. Maculot a year after his body was found. The camera was found hundreds of meters away from where the body was recovered a year earlier.
The NBI said the camera has no trace of wear and tear despite a year of exposure to heat and rain. In fact, the camera was still intact that NBI agents were still able to retrieve the last pictures taken by Ayson supposedly minutes before he died.
"Kung siya'y nahulog, dapat kasama nyang nahulog ang camera. Duda natin ito ay itinapon para i-cover up kaya lang yung suspect nagkamali siya ng tapon," Comia said.
Recently, the NBI conducted a simulation to determine which spot his body should have landed on.
The agency found out that the spot where Ayson's body was found was hundreds of meters away from where his body should have landed on. This finding led the agency to suspect that Ayson was killed.
Investigators said Ayson may have been killed somewhere in the mountain, and his body was just dumped in another area afterwards.
During the fall simulation using a pig, the animal's body was torn to pieces. They noted Ayson's body was still intact.
Investigators also discovered the alleged rocky portion where Ayson's body was hidden while the two-week search was being conducted last year.
In that portion of the mountain, investigators found pieces of rope, Ayson's underwear, and the alleged murder weapon - a piece of rock placed inside plastic to create a makeshift sling.
Chester Gans, NBI Special Investigator said, "Nakuhanan namin ng statement ang girlfriend ni Victor, sumigaw siya ng malakas, 'Victor! Victor!' Tapos may narinig syang 'Aahh!' Marami silang nakarinig."
This same area was not searched last year, since it was far from where Ayson fell, and the lead rescuers were telling other rescuers that the area was already searched.
The lead rescuers are now considered suspects by the NBI for their supposed deliberate efforts to mislead the other rescuers.
The NBI believes that the suspects are still around Mt. Maculot. It suspects that the perpetrators had acted as guides to several mountaineers before robbing them afterwards.
The suspects, during the search for Ayson, were also quoted as saying that supernatural beings or "engkanto" could have caused the death of Ayson.
The NBI believes the crime could not have been done by one suspect alone, but by around four to six people.
The agency also warned mountaineers who have plans of hiking the popular mountain.
"Ang payo ko: huwag silang aakyat mag isa. Kung maaari, apat sila. Huwag sila matutulog sa campsite sapagkat narito pa ang ating suspect," Comia said.
The NBI is now processing the new set of evidence for the filing of charges against the suspects.